It might be the loss of a friend or beloved pet; parents’ divorce or family illness; a crisis in self-confidence or peer pressure to experiment with drugs or sex.
Whatever the problem, the first step in helping your child get through a crisis is to recognize she is in one.
Look for warning signs such as increased anxiety, depression, disturbed sleep patterns, shame, guilt, anger and hostility.
If you see sudden or dramatic changes, dig deeper. Ask your child how she feels. What is bothering her? Try to find the source of the pressure, so you can begin to help relieve it.
Doing these things can help:
• Understand your child’s reactions. Your child will use different methods to cope with pain. Her emotions will run high, causing explosive words and actions.
• Listen openly. Ask your child to describe her feelings. Repeat what she says.
• Offer empathy—not quick advice. Try to understand your child’s pain. Say you know how hard it is and that it pains you to see her go through the crisis.
• Accept your child. She might become increasingly hostile and negative toward you. Even as you correct her behavior, show her she’s loved.
• Guide positively. Give your child steps to take to begin solving the problem. Or give her a task that will build her self-confidence.
• Express your confidence. Tell your child you trust her and know she can overcome the difficulty.
• Stay calm. Don’t let yourself become overwhelmed by the crisis. If you don’t know what to do, seek professional help.
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