Are You Misunderstanding Your Child or Teen?

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At Family-Therapy we support parents to understand their children and create trust and safety with them. Kids can’t open up to you, develop strong bonds, or lean on you if they feel they can’t trust you. We understanding that parenting children and teens is a tough job.

We understand the demands put on parents and especially when it comes to parenting children and teens with special needs. By building strong positive relationships and by teaching and demonstrating how to communicating in respectful and healthy ways, we can help all our children reach their full potential. Through family therapy, we can help provide parents and step parents new tools for communicating in positive healthy manner to help create loving bonds that last a life time.

Parenting is challenging

Parents are human after all and sometimes we loose our “cool”. We need to learn how to “respond” to our children and teens instead of “reacting“. Too often we react what we perceive is bad behaviour towards us. We take their behavior, their actions or their words personally and we react with our own emotionally charged reply. Unfortunately when we do this we turn up the volume or the intensity of the conversation or the interaction. Finding appropriate discipline for our teens and children can be the most difficult challenge by many parents. too often parents focus on trying to control their children’s behaviors instead of trying to teach them life skills.

When we respond instead, we don’t have a meltdown, we don’t yell ay our children, we don’t shame our teens. We take life in stride. As an adult, we keep our emotions in check. Spilled milk is seen as just an accident, not your child ruining your day or making more work for you. Responding allows us to hold our children responsible for their behaviours, their actions, their words and use these moments as teaching moments. This approach to parenting does not involve shaming or belittling or put-downs. Responding looks like examining the situation and then choosing the appropriate age response and conversation.

If your child is struggling at school, yelling at them and telling them they are lazy doesn’t get better grades. “Let’s sit down and figure out what is going on” is a better approach. Do we need to get a tutor? Is there a learning disability? Your child may even need eyeglasses. For a teen, the conversation can involve talking about career choices, getting into post-secondary education or not and why they may be tuning out at school. Some students, they may require you as a parent to help them to help with difficult homework that they aren’t understanding in class. Parents may need to discuss tutoring and writing help options with your child, see where they stand and what level of help they feel they need. Offering help before the problem becomes too huge is important. Your child may have a learning difficulty which needs to be addressed.

Ways we Misunderstand our Children

1) We forget what it’s like to be a child or a teenager

As parents, we may ask our children to do things that even an older child would find difficult. We expect too much from our child or our teen. Somehow in growing up ourselves, we forget what it was like to be a child ourselves. We may have unrealistic expectations. We forget our child or teen doesn’t have as much life experience as we do and we expect them to have the maturity and insight of an older person.

2) We blame and criticize

When our teen or child makes a mistake we take it personally. we are shocked they get things wrong, they trip and rip their pants or we see them as being defiant. We forget making and learning from our mistakes is part of life and we have made our share of mistakes. When we criticize and blame we break the trust in our relationship with our children. We sometimes forget how painful angry words, insults, and blame can be to a child or a teenager. And then we get angry when their feelings get hurt.

3) We forget how love can heal

Sometimes we forget how a cuddle, a hug, or an encouraging word can help our children and teens heal and thrive. Too often we forget to connect with our teens because we think “they don’t need us” or “they just want to be alone”. And nothing could be further from the truth. While teens may want to hang out more with their peers they still need you present and engaged in their lives.

Reach out to our child and youth psychotherapists if you need to chat about the challenges your child or teen may be facing.