The way that we parent emerges from several sources. The influences for my parenting came from my parents, relatives, friend’s parents, teachers, and coaches. Yes, there are many texts, and I have read a few, but parenting is ‘on-line’, we respond ‘in-the-moment’! We usually don’t stop, read a book, or reflect on past teachings as the needs of children arise. The reality is that we never stop guiding our children. We just acquiesce to the developing needs in our children’s lives.
When children have behavioral and emotional challenges in life, parenting is difficult. Some children and adolescents may have persistent difficulty with impulse control, mood, anxiety, attention, judgment, decision making, and learning. These disorders are usually pervasive; they are in all categories of a child’s life. This stresses parenting limits.
In therapy with children and adolescents, parents are collegial with the therapist in shaping a child’s behavior and elevating esteem. Guidelines to help manage symptoms are necessary. Subsequently, the following guidelines are a sample of many tools that a parent can employ.
- Maintain your power and influence as a parent. Never abdicate the throne. It is how you strategize and communicate with your child that brings respect of your power. Your child may want power, but not all the responsibilities that come with adulthood.
- At all costs, pause before you introduce amendment to your child’s problem. Parents are models for their children. If a parent is poised, emotionally controlled, and explanatory, over time and rehearsal your child may mimic these behaviors as well. This approach takes time.
- Treat one symptom at a time.
- Try to conceptualize your child’s perspective of the world. This involves the concept of “How my child sees the world, self, and others”. Your child reacts to these strong personal beliefs. You are part of this belief system.
- View parenting in four linear boxes. The first box is the problem, the second is the parenting intervention, the third is the outcome, and the fourth is the opportunity to review the problem. This review is important, and invites the child or teen to express understanding of the problem, and develop amendments. This forms meaningfulness to learning.
- Avoid socialized, protective, or excessive dependence in parenting. These are approaches that your child does not really want. Express love often.
- Highlight your child’s strengths, and encourage your child to use them in facing the symptoms of an emotional challenge.
- Explain the meaningfulness of your values and the gift of individual responsibility.
- Tell your child about your childhood. I have met many children and teens who don’t know their parent’s birthdates, or the relationship that was experienced between parent and the child’s grandparent. Legacy is crucial to your child and our culture.
- Explain your thoughts, ideas, and beliefs. Describe your life and how you face daily challenges or past difficulties. You are your child’s inspiration.
- Constantly evaluate yourself and any progress you are making. Do not be discouraged. Often times the root cause of a disorder is neurological. Nature is more powerful than good intentions and effort.
- Learn everything you can about your child or adolescent’s disorder.