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by Nathan Chua
Parents often end up in a quandary about what they had done wrong to their kids. They never saw it coming. Why has my child become rebellious or turned into someone I hardly know? From the loving child who saw me as someone who meant the world to her, she has now turned to other things, or people to find love and solace. There are also cases when a child becomes unmanageable even at an early age. We witness this when we see parent and child engaged in a battle of wills, with the child having no other recourse but to cry her lungs out.
If there was one factor that can influence the child’s emotional quotient or EQ, it is the level of validation that they get early from their significant caregiver. I say caregiver or guardian because it matters less who gives the care, than how the care is given. Validation means that a child feels precious and worthwhile to her guardians. It allows a child to develop a self-confidence that her voice will be heard when she needs something. Validation overcomes shame and withdrawal. The child realizes that her efforts to get her needs met as well as to change her circumstances, can be effectual.
Now the question is, how can a toddler experience this even at an age when they seem unable to understand the consequences of their early experiences to their later life. We must understand that early childhood experiences can already create indelible memories in a child. The best way to validate a child is to give her the proper attention she asks.
You have probably watched scenes where a child approaches a parent who is tired, working or talking with another adult. It is common to observe a mother losing patience with her child incessantly tugging at the seams of her blouse. “Can’t you wait?” “Don’t be disrespectful, I am still talking to someone!” are some of the common responses in these situations. This experience, believe it or not, is invalidating for a child.
A better response would be to stop and look at the child straight in the eyes and tell her, “Yes my child, I understand that seems important to you. Please give mom a few minutes. I just need to finish what I am doing, and I would certainly love to listen to what you have to say.”
Make sure though that you exhibit the kind of body language that allows the child to infer that she is just as important as what you are engaged in at the moment. In fact, she should feel that she is first and foremost in your priorities. Offer her that loving gaze that assures her you value her.
What can you expect from your child if you do this? Although it is still dependent on other factors, you will probably see a child grow up with confidence, persistence, trust and initiative.
This presentation contains images that were used under a Creative Commons License. Click here to see the full list of images and attributions: https://app.contentsamurai.com/cc/49051
By Nathan Chua
Some of the biggest parenting challenges come during the teen years. I often see parents come to me wondering whatever happened to their sweet little child. They have become strangers now. Ultimately there is one thing to blame for all of this, which many parents don’t quite realize that easily. Kids grow up!
Yes, like knowing that we have a cancer that we would much rather not, realizing that our kids are no longer going to treat us like we are the center of their world, can be disheartening news for some of us. I think it comes to what parents understand about growing up. Much of the pattern parents follow in raising kids comes from the way they were themselves raised. I often feel much gratification from seeing parents who come for help, and see how they can start to break this pattern of raising kids that can affect several generations to come. Please note that I am not talking here about perfection. Every set of parents, or parent, or guardian, would have some holes to plug. No pressure here.
The first step to creating better relationships with our teenaged kids begins with understanding what it is like to be at this stage of the kids’ lives.
Here are some things we should know about the teen years:
No longer a child, but not yet an adult
Here’s where most of the difficulty lies. Parents don’t know or don’t remember what the biggest struggles were when they were teens themselves. If there was one word that can sum up the crux of the conflicts, they all arise out of the clash in the way the child and the parents interpret the word, “Freedom.”
These are the years where the leash can be lengthened. Parents would have to learn how to balance between their children’s safety and their need to have as much fun as they can.
One of the most difficult things to talk about is…I can’t even say it. Okay, okay, sex. Parents are often unaware of the way they unconsciously suppress their kids’ growing urge to pair with others of their age. It becomes even more difficult for parents who may be uncomfortable with children who display homosexual preferences in their teen years.
This is the time for parents to face up to the reality that topics of this nature are no longer avoidable. Trying to control sexual behavior can often backfire because the more kids are made to see that something is forbidden, the more curious they become. Remember whatever information you withhold, they are more than likely to get it somewhere else that you may not like, and later on, may even regret. Not talking about it with the kids, does not make the urges to have sex go away.
This last factor is the most difficult, especially for parents who have no clue about just how their behaviors and attitudes affect their children. Parents are often rattled by the sudden loss of connection they have with their kids. They no longer prefer the safety and warmth they used to find in the company of their parents at their favorite mall. Suddenly, there is competition with other teenagers who want to hang out in more exciting places.
One thing that most parents like to see to feel that their kids still connect with them, is for them to follow every piece of advice they give. Sadly, many parents derive their sense of achievement in raising their kids by how much they see themselves in their children. Sometimes parents do this unconsciously with their pent-up anger against their own caretakers in the past.
If there was again another word that can describe what our teenagers would love to get from parents at this stage, it is “Listen.” Of course, the obvious objection to this is, many parents believe that they have tried to listen but have so far been unsuccessful. The bad news is, “Not all listening is created equal.” The good news is, there is a right way to listen, and it can be learned.
Kids want to connect with their parents. It is just up to the parents to learn how that can happen in their children’s own unique way of connecting.