Monday, April 19, 2010

What is your child trying to say?

Parents can better understand what their children are saying when they are in tune with them, like singing a song along with a fine tuned musical instrument. When we think of parenting as being like the sound of music, we see that being in tune creates harmony, but when the instrument is out of tune with the song we sing, what we hear leaves us confused. In fact, being out of tune creates what becomes irritating to our ears and hard to hear. That’s when harmony is replaced with communication mistakes which create huge parenting headaches.HOW TO BE IN TUNE WITH WHAT CHILDREN THINK, SAY AND DO:1. Know why and when a child is saying,”I’m afraid.”

Understanding your child’s developmental stage and age is the best way to understand what they say by the way they behave. When we consider the process of child development, we will see why a child’s way to communicate can be confusing, especially within early childhood. What may seem obvious to you won’t make much sense to a child who can’t understand the logical reasons parents do what they do.

If the parent is out of tune or confused as to what goes through the mind of a three year-old child, they won’t understand why their child misbehaves or acts out. They’ll be out of tune with the way their child thinks when they leave the child with someone else and assume the child can understand they’ll eventually come back, but in fact, the child might be thinking, “Mommy and dad will never come back.” That’s when the child will have an anxiety attack that makes them mad, so the next thing you know, the day care is calling you to say, “Your child is misbehaving today, and in fact, he just hit and/or bit another kid.”

Parent’s who are in tune to their children’s developmental stage can see that when their child misbehaves, it usually means they are trying to say, “I’m afraid.” Being in tune with your child’s level of ability to comprehend the concept of object permanence will help you understand why your child gets mad and acts out when you’re out of sight. To get in tune with your child, you can then communicate with them and behave in ways that teach the child to see that just because you leave the room doesn’t mean you’ve abandoned them, but you still exist and you’ll come back into their view soon.

2. Listen to words never heard when a child is saying,”My needs are not being met.”Have you ever seen a child scream and throw a fit in public? If and when you do, you’ll see with your own eyes exactly what that child needs, but the parent often looks confused. They don’t seem to have a clue that their child is publically screaming, “I need you to discipline me.” When children aren’t provided with guidance on how to behave in socially pleasing ways, their socially inappropriate behavior says, “Please teach me how to behave in public.”Another way a child communicates an unmet need might be to get cranky and even mean when their need to eat and sleep at appropriate times are not met, due to the parent’s lack of time and the mess that comes from stress. With no sense of order or routine, children scream, cry, whine and get mean as a way to say, “Feed me please, and then, put me to bed so I can get some rest.”

Then again, there are endless ways children misbehave as a way to communicate with words never heard, but alarmingly seen when they begin to climb the walls, behave in obnoxious ways and throw a fit or two to say to you, “Pay attention to me please.”

3. Become in tune with your child’s mood to see if they’re saying, “I need a boost from you.”
When parents use their ears and eyes to become tuned into their child’s moods, they’ll see how to fine tune the keys a child needs for a healthy self esteem. Gloomy moods might be a child’s way to say, “I’m lonely and I don’t think anyone likes me.” Lashing out in frustration can be a way to say, “Someone bullied me today.” On the other hand, when a child isolates himself in his room, it could be that he is telling you, “I don’t fit in with other kids.” Being in tune with your child means you’ll see the unseen and read between the lines that children tend to hide behind. In other words, children need to be seen and heard to develop a sense of belonging and worth.

4. When teens behave in irrational ways, it’s a way to say,”I’m confused.”
Although your teen may be the size of an adult, their brains remain childish until the human mind can be completely developed with the maturity it takes to use their God given common sense. In the mean time, a teen will be confused while living within an adult size body and a child like mind at the same time. That’s why teens tend to do illogical things as a way to explain, “I’m confused and I don’t know what to do.” It’s as if they ask themselves every day, ” How do I think through my child like mind and behave as maturely as I appear to be?”This confusion is why parents of teens so often say, “My teen drives me insane,” and it’s also why teens complain all the time, “My parents don’t understand me.” Being tuned in with the confusing aspects of what it means to be a teen will help you clearly see what he or she is actually saying when they do those crazy things teens do, such as, “I still need you to guide my life.” Even though they look grown up, a teen is still a kid who needs a few boundaries and rules set by you, who has a mind that fits your body size.

5. By the way, children of any age behave in ways that say, “I need you to be pleased with me.”
The biggest mistake some parents make is when they pay more attention to the mistakes their children make, than to what their children do to pleas them. Although people say every day,”No news is good news,” that’s not true when it comes to parenting. Everything good a child says or does must be seen and acknowledged through the reinforcement of good news which comes from you. Praise goes a long way to make up for the fact that we sometimes miss what our kids are trying to say.

After all, when people are pleased and pleasing, they tend to create ways to communicate which sounds and feels like harmony. That’s why it’s wise to keep in mind that when it comes to a child’s need to please his or her parents, there’s no age or phase that makes the need to please obsolete, so look for the signs and behave accordingly. That’s when you’ll be more likely to see a sparkle in your children’s eyes and a smile on their face, which will be their way to say, “My parents are proud of me today.”

Posted by Lim Sin Loong, T3

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