- Parenting is a challenging part for most of an individual’s life
- It is important to have an open dialogue with the children about social issues and stress
- Discussing difficult topics help children understand the issue and face them more confidently
July 29, 2017: An article recently uploaded by Merck Manual answers parenting questions regarding the social issues that children see in daily life. Steven D. Blatt, Professor of Pediatrics at the State University of New York, answers the best ways to talk out problems with children.
Children entirely depend on their parent for survival and protection. And the parent sacrifices the entire life for the same. In the growing up process, it is important that children are also provided with love and care. At the same time, they must be toughened up and aware of the potential issues they will face in near future. Coping effectively with stress should be taught at the very beginning to the child.
Prof. Blatt highly recommends active social interaction. What is important is not just interactions inside the home but mostly outside. The externals may include relatives, friends, people at school, parks, religious centers, and other public interactions. Children tend to pick up stress coping ability by handling these interactions. Children also quite remarkably observe adults and observe how they handle stress.
Along the growing up process, internal conflicts that emerge and cause major disturbance to family structure and order has a deep influence on the child. Challenges such as illness or divorce challenge a child’s ability to cope and further destabilize emotions and social development. An illness, which is quite common, puts the child under distress and naturally impacts his performance in academics and extracurricular activities.
It is not just the child but his family that is stressed. Taking care of a child that is ill is a suffering like no other. Handling a child who has a serious behavioral problem is a major challenge. At this time, support should never be inadequate to the child. With family support comes a sense of security. Essential resources must at all times be employed into taking care of the child.
Life events such as divorce, illness, bullying and other social issues seem scary at a young age. Moreover, events that may not have a direct effect on children are also potentially worrying. Natural disasters, terrorist attacks, international wars, mass executions cause anxiety and fear among children. Subsequently, these fears impact the child for a long period.
Prof Blatt accepts that talking out difficult topics with young children is complicated and not the most chosen approach. However, he suggests open discussion. Open dialogue helps the children overcome their fears of talking about uncomfortable and unpleasant topics. These unnecessary fears which are constant at the back of the mind are thus eliminated as children talk transparently with their guardians.
A child should be able to comprehend that anxiety is a very common phenomenon. They must learn that anxiety is only natural and that it always lessens over time. Steven Blatt believes that regularly discussing such topics with children starting from an early range often results in children being automatically more open about such discussions as adolescents.
The professor further suggests how the discussion should take place. Complex and unpleasant topics should be discussed in a quiet surrounding. The place of conversation must be safe and comfortable. But most importantly, it should be that time of the day when the child is really interested in hearing what you have to say. With this interest, understanding drastically improves.
The parent has to remain calm, open, honest and straightforward. Moreover, all the attention of the parent’s mind should be on the topic at hand. Interestingly, nodding your head when appropriate and even using the phrase “I understand” boost the child’s confidence and encourages the child to confide deeper and further. Retrospective and reflecting on what the child thinks is a big bonus to the ever improving relationship of parent and offspring.
Asking how the child feels encourages a fruitful discussion. It also brings out more emotions on the part of the children. Through this, parents can extract the deeper emotions that the child may not be expressed openly. Offering reassurances and explaining the present situation is always beneficial for the child. Blatt says that parents often overestimate the power of reassurance and that is often the big mistake that is committed.
Another conversation that threatens the open dialogue is when a parent has to address difficult aspects of child’s behavior. For instance, the addiction to drugs or other substances. It may get difficult for the parent to choose a suitable approach. However, the professor suggests being direct is the most effective approach. In a single conversation, the parent’s love, care and at the same time concern must be reflected in their phrases. Then, it should be followed up with hope and support. Also important to keep in mind is allowing the child to speak and explain his thoughts.
Lastly, involving therapists and counselors at difficult times is beneficial to both the parties to the relationship.
– prepared by Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter: @Saksham2394