But that attitude can lead parents to overlook real problems.
Every stage of childhood presents certain challenges. As children overcome these challenges, they gain the skills they need to become healthy adults. But if kids don’t get the help they need at a particular stage, they can actually get “stuck” at that point in their development. That’s one reason you may see teenagers who still throw tantrums to get what they want.
If you tend to dismiss your child’s experiences as “just a phase,” you may overlook the seriousness . . . and the depth . . . of your child’s feelings. That may lead your child to believe you don’t understand, you aren’t listening, or you just don’t care.
Kids who don’t feel they can turn to their parents for support will get help elsewhere. Here are some ways to help your child deal with a difficult emotional stage:
- Carefully examine the problem. Does your son seem to use lots of unacceptable language after playing with a particular friend? Does your daughter seem especially fearful on the day of a spelling test? Watch your kids carefully. Then ask them to talk about what’s going on.
- Listen to your children. Sometimes children know exactly what’s wrong but don’t want to tell you because they’re afraid of your reaction. In that case, try to listen without getting angry, sarcastic or defensive. If your children don’t know what’s causing the problem, keep watching and listening until you start to figure it out.
- Encourage your child to solve the problem. Many parents want to solve all problems for their kids. That doesn’t help them grow to be strong adults. For many problems, your role is to listen to your child, to suggest some alternatives, and to help your child deal with the issue.
- Correct inappropriate behavior. You’re still the parent. If your child is suddenly using bad language, you have a right to tell him to stop. A bad phase can drag on longer if parents don’t set some limits.
- Ask what you can do to help. Kids can’t solve all problems on their own. You can let your child know you’ll always be there to help.
Copyright © Parent Institute