Advice Column, Child, Parenting

Empower your child

Notice your feelings when your child challenges you.

We live in a different world today. What may have worked then may not be relevant today.

“With the increase of mental health problems, higher occurrences of suicide amongst the tweens and teens and more depression and anxiety experienced by children it goes without saying that parents feel overwhelmed and not always on top of their game,” says Anna Rodrigues Clamber Club Expert and Play Therapist.

Playing is a child’s language and can be interesting. As much as they learn from us we too can learn from them. “Children live in the moment, they live in the here and now and the time you spend with them makes a difference to their overall well being,” says Anna. “By playing with your child you are connecting on a physical level and when you start mentioning feelings, connection on an emotional level happens,” adds Anna.

During play stating to your child that you are feel happy playing with him and that you are feel excited when you are jumping, dancing and crawling with him makes him feel special and important. When you smile at him, give him a hug and tickle him – you make him feel worthy in that moment. As the parent you become more attentive to your child and realise the time together is magical!

There are reasons why children present with challenging behaviour. They may be looking for your attention. They may want to control you and enter into a power struggle with you or they may want you to feel sorry for them or make you feel guilty.

This is the moment to notice your feelings.

Scene 1:

Your child refuses to feed his dog but with a bit of encouragement he gets in and does it. But on another occasion your child persists relentlessly and does not cooperate. Be conscious of your feelings. If you get irritated or annoyed your child could be looking for attention. A way to deal with this would be to reflect on content and feeling. For example: “I see you continue to play and you seem to ignore what I am asking you to do. (Reflect on the content). Perhaps you are feeling a bit tired?” Reflecting on what your child is doing or on what he may be feeling makes him feel he is being understood and this is calming for your child. “This approach may influence him to cooperate,” advises Rodrigues.

Scene 2:

Your child makes a noise while you and your husband are trying to watch TV. Take note of what you are feeling, you may be getting cross and a power struggle may start to form. The technique to use is to present your child with choices. For example: “You are making a noise and we can’t hear the TV. You can stay and play quietly or we can take you to your bedroom where you can play loudly.” If he continues to make a noise then take him to his bedroom and let him return when he is able to play quietly. Providing your child with choices is empowering for him as it allows him to choose. It also builds a sense of responsibility, as how he chooses to behave will determine whether he stays in his bedroom or plays besides his parents.

Scene 3:

You are a single parent reading a bedtime story to your 5 year old. Your child says “ Dad reads nicer stories.” You feel this is hurtful and your child may want you to feel bad or guilty because she may be angry being away from her dad. Reply by reflecting on her feelings, “I bet you wish dad were here, I feel sad for you. Maybe you can help me choose a bedtime story every night.”

To recap:

Your feelings Intention of your child’s challenging behaviour Technique to use
You feel annoyed/irritated. Your child looking for your attention. Reflect on what your child is doing and feeling.
You feel cross. Your child is looking at controlling or entering into a power struggle. Provide your child with choices.
You feel hurt. Your child is wanting to take revenge or make you feel guilty. Reflect on your child’s feelings.

 

In managing your child’s challenging behaviour you are building his character.

You want your child to have a sound moral make-up, to be able to love, be responsible and have empathy for others, to be able to solve problems, deal with failure and perform under pressure.

William A Ward once said: “ The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates and the great teacher inspires”

“You that you are your child’s first teacher, so be the AMAZING teacher,” says Anna.

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