When there is a problem (or multiple problems) with our child, we have tried everything we know how to do and it is just not working out, it is easy to feel like we have failed in some way. It might be their behaviour, their sleep, picky eating or a hundred other things.
Feeling uncertain about what to do is a common part of parenting and it is always worth reminding ourselves of a couple of things.
Firstly, our children are people in the same way we are and they learn in the same way we do; by coming up against problems, making mistakes and learning from them. Some of that learning happens quickly and some of it doesn’t.
Secondly, it is also worth challenging that feeling of being a failure in ourselves by asking what success is as a parent?
It can feel like success is never having problems, but this is just impossible. Success is not the absence of challenges but rather it is the ability to work with what we have and persevere. There is no parent that has all the answers and no perfect child. Children are unique individuals as are we. They gain growth and insight through overcoming things in the same way we do.There is no parent that has all the answers and no perfect child Click To Tweet
So what to do when there are repeated problems with your children. Well unfortunately there is no magic cure all (as we all know) but there are useful ways to approach the issues. These are my top 5 tips.
1 – Consider the underlying emotions for your child and also yourself
There is not one approach to dealing with a particular problem because (for recurring issues) it is the emotion or a need behind it that needs to be addressed, which varies from person-to-person.
Of course, there are issues that are just pretty straight forward and work on a practical level. A child wetting the bed could just be drinking too much at night so reducing the fluid intake will solve it. But these are not the things that we get stuck on. We get stuck when a child wets the bed because they can’t face bedtime without a comforting drink or because they are wetting the bed through worry. Each requires a different intervention.
A child might be getting into trouble because he feels a lack of attention and actually ten minutes of one-to-one time would help that feeling or it may be because he feels frustrated with too much or to little is being asked of him.
Here are some useful questions to ask.
What might be going on for your child?
Is there something behind their behaviour?
What feelings or needs do they have right now?
Once you have identified this then it is easier to think about some way you could help them.
The other important part in the equation is us. We bring as much to the relationship as our children do. Asking ourselves ‘Is this creating fears in me that is more about me than my child?’ is very important.
Sometimes we see problems where there is not one. We fear for our child but that fear is ours, not theirs. A good example is the quiet child who always sits on the sidelines at a party until she is ready to join in and play. We might be thinking it is a problem. It may provoke a fear that our child is not socially equipped or that she is being rude. It may remind us of ourselves and feeling left out when we were young. However, our daughter could be perfectly happy watching, taking stock of everything that is going on knowing that when she feels like it she will join in.
When we identify how much of the dilemma is our own fears, it helps enormously.
2 – Try one thing at a time
There is no point flipping from one approach to another. You won’t know what is working and your child likewise will not know what is going on. Particularly when we are attempting to fill an emotional need we must acknowledge that it takes time. A resentful child who keeps being aggressive to his sibling is unlikely to stop that in two days no matter what approach you take. However, in two weeks it could be a different story as he starts to learn that he has time when he is in charge, for example.
3 – Trust our children
All children are on a learning curve, as are we, they just have more to learn about the way the world works. They have the ability to handle life with support and direction. Sometimes you might just need to support them through a situation maybe explaining their emotions as they go so they get to understand what is going on.We need to trust that our children have the ability to learn Click To Tweet
Sometimes we just have to trust (particularly as they get older) that they have the ability to learn. Stepping in is not always the best approach. Even when it is in our power to solve a problem it is not always in their interests that we do so. Removing a child from a difficult situation is, in many situations, completely appropriate but sometimes not.
4 – Be okay with not always knowing
Trusting that we have the ability to cope with something, even if we don’t have the knowledge at the moment, is very important. In our society knowledge is highly respected. Often it is portrayed that people who don’t know must be ignorant. But we can’t know everything, even The Dali Lama says he doesn’t know. Life is about constant learning. There are times when we just have to go with the flow, trusting in ourselves that we will get to the bottom of it, or it will just naturally change.
5 – Keep searching
It can take time to get through the issues children present us with. When we keep ourselves open to the possibilities and searching then we often find the answer, or part of it, comes from unexpected areas.
I hope these tips are helpful. If you find your child has a certain emotion causing issues over and over again, like worry or anger, then I can happily recommend a series of books some of which I have used. It is great to have something structured to work through slowly with a child.
What to do when…. series by Dawn Huebner
These are some of the topics covered
What to do when…
you Grumble too much
worry too much
you dread your bed
bad habits take hold
your temper flares
your brain gets stuck
its not fair
Click on the images below to take a closer look.
I have used the worry and temper book. Both have been really useful. They are ideally suited to children 6 to 12. Depending on your child’s concentration ability I would recommend pre reading them and pulling out the key points beforehand if they are 7 or under. These are best worked through one chapter at a time
For younger children who worry a lot there is also a great book called ‘The Huge Bag of Worries’ by Virginia Ironside and ‘TA for Tots’ by Alvyn M Freed, which takes a look at emotions and helping give younger kids a way to talk about what is happening for them.
Thanks for reading. I would love to know your thoughts, experiences and feelings about the challenges children pose. I reply to every comment.
So what is next?
If you liked this article then you may also like:
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