• 2nd Feb, 16 •
What you can do to help your child
Although you may have a healthy relationship with your son or daughter, children will sometimes choose not to share their problems with you, this is nothing to feel concerned about. Sometimes this is about protecting you from worrying about them and being upset and other times it just feels easier to talk to someone who is not connected to them. Children need help, support and empathic understanding as they transition into adulthood, and this can be a difficult time for your child
It is important to give your child the time that they need, to be patient and offer your understanding by finding a way to enter their world by putting yourself in their shoes.
If you are concerned that your child may be bottling up their worries and struggling to resolve problems, then seeking the help of a qualified counsellor may be the answer. Counselling can provide confidential support to help your child cope with any problems they might be having.
Counselling offers non- judgmental support in which the child can feel safe and comfortable whilst speaking to someone who is neutral to the process and qualified to help them through their issues. Strategies and psycho-education is offered to help the child understand how problems impact on us and how individuals respond to problems, once an understanding of the problem is understood we can work on building coping strategies so that life problems become smaller and easier to manage.
Ten tips for helping your child (under 10 years)
1. Be specific when giving praise
Being specific and focusing on what you are actually giving praise for will help the child understand the importance of compliments, leaving the child feeling more confident and encouraged to continue.
e.g. instead of just saying “That’s good”, “well done”……Say “you made a really good job of tidying your bedroom, well done”.
2. Give your child lots of affection
Children need to receive calm and comforting physical affection, hugs, and kisses and to hear that they are loved and liked. Sometimes we focus on saying “I love you” and give less focus on telling children that they are liked, this is important to develop a strong sense of self. Physical affection will strengthen the immune system.
3. Play together
Let your child make the choice about what they want to play, try to make the play imaginative, e.g. using lego, cars, dolls etc. This will help you both build a strong bond together and will enable the child to develop their own language and identity. Providing your child with lots of imaginative, explorative play will activate the seeking system in the brain, which will provide the child with drive and motivation to turn creative ideas into a reality.
4. Give a reasonable responsibility
There are many things a child can help with at a young age such as tidying away their toys, setting the table, pairing socks etc. Having an individual responsibility is a life skill that will benefit them in later life, help them to believe that they are a valuable family member who is appreciated equally.
5. Supporting your child in helping others
Supporting your child in helping others is the perfect way to boost confidence. Doing something kind to help another makes everyone feel good. When the idea comes from the child it encourages them to consider costs and benefits, which is an important life skill.
Helping others can be the smallest act of kindness, e.g. opening a door for someone who is struggling, or picking up an item that someone else drops. This develops empathic understanding and raises the child's self esteeem.
6. Feeling safe
Throughout life the child needs to feel safe in their unconditional love of parents/significant other. Experiencing this during childhood can have positive effects on the child’s ability to form lasting relationships later on in life.
7. Take time to understand
When a parent can give time to the child to help them to understand their painful feelings, the emotional bond between parent and child deepens. Children are never too young to grieve and they need painful feelings put into words that they can understand.
8. Be clear about your role as a parent
Remember that you are the parent, so don’t be nervous or uncomfortable about making a decision, if the child picks up on your feelings of uncertainty they will become very powerful and learn very quickly to push the boundaries. Boundaries are in place to keep the child safe and they will respect you for this in the long run.
9. Stick to the boundaries
Be clear about what behaviours you find acceptable and unacceptable and give an explanation as to why this is. Children need to know what is ok and what is not ok. If you are unable to stick with your decision the child will become confused, and have less respect for boundaries.
10. Remember nobody is perfect
We all get it wrong at times,we all have stressful days, the secret is not being afraid to admit this. Explain to the child what happened and help them learn that it is ok to make mistakes. "you are human after all".
Are you experiencing any of the following?
- Relationship difficulties
- Communication problems
- Separation or divorce
- Sadness, hurt or anger
- Frustration, confusion or despair
- Stress, anxiety or depression
- Mood changes
- A change of family situation or life stage
- A feeling of rejection
- Difficulties living with chronic pain, critical illness or disability
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