Parenting Tips to Help Your Child through a Difficult Time

All children experience difficulties growing up.  Problems may appear in biological, psychological, social or spiritual areas as children navigate through youth.  As a parent you can help to foster a relationship of trust and support that will allow you to be present with your child as he or she experiences challenges.  While a professional therapist may be needed for more serious issues such as anxiety, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorder there are steps that you can take to comfort your child without a therapist.

4 Ways to help BEFORE a Problem

1. Expect Problems. Every child will go through some sort of crisis. It is a natural part of growing up, so don’t be surprised!  BE READY FOR THE OPPORTUNITY TO HELP.
2. KNOW your child. The best way to help is to see the crisis coming, but you won’t see a crisis coming if you don’t know your child. Crisis causes kids to change what they say, how they feel, and how they act. Know what is normal so you can recognize the change.
3. LOVE your child. Kids feel pain when they’re in crisis. They need your love, your trust. But they will not come to you in a time of storm if they don’t feel your love in times of calm. Show your kids you love them now!
4. COMMUNICATE with your child. Talk – and listen to your kids. Show interest now so they will know you care later.

6 Ways to help DURING a crisis

1. LOOK for the signs of a crisis. Look for these warning signs: increased anxiety, changes in appetite or sleeping patterns, depression, shame, guilt, anger and hostility. If you recognize these or other sudden and dramatic changes in your child’s mood or behavior, look for crisis!
2. LOCATE the cause of crisis. Ask your child how he feels, what is bothering him. Find the source of pressure so you can help relieve it.
3. UNDERSTAND your child’s reactions. Your child will try various methods to cope with pain and make the crisis go away. Tensions and emotions can run high, resulting in explosive words and actions. Recognize and understand why your child is reacting and respond in love.
4. LISTEN AND TALK. Ask your child to describe his or her feelings. Repeat back to your child what he or she has said. Feel your child’s pain. Tell your child you understand how hard it is for him or her and how painful it is for you to see him or her go through the crisis. Offer empathy, not quick advice.
5. HUG and HOLD your child. Express your love consistently in words and actions. Tell him he is loved, valued and accepted no matter what.
6. GUIDE positively. After you have listened to, understood and identified with your child’s pain, offer positive feedback and confidence. Give him some practical action or task you know he can do to build his self-worth. (It is good if the task helps someone else.) Tell your child you trust him or her and his or her ability to rise above the difficulty. Do not let yourself be overwhelmed by the crisis. Seek professional guidance with a qualified therapist if you don’t know what to do or to say.

3 Ways to help AFTER a crisis

1. PRAISE your child. Tell your child how proud you are of him or her for enduring hardship.
2. APPLY the positive lesson(s) learned. Admit any mistakes you made in handling the crisis. Affirm your love for your child. Discuss how you felt. Listen to your child’s feelings. Talk about what worked and evaluate what was accomplished. Together, agree on how to correct the problems and the best way to handle feelings and actions next time.
3. PREPARE for the next crisis. Agree that going through crisis is better together than alone. Discuss the other potential crisis that might happen based upon what you learned.


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7 Signs That Your Child May Have a Learning Disability
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