Parenting isn’t always easy. !!
Hard Work – definitely!
If you think your child is unhappy or if you are worried about their behaviour, it’s easy to be hard on yourself and worry that you’re not doing a good job.
The following tips are for any parent who is worried about their child, or their own parenting skills:
- Make sure they know you love them and are proud of them. Even when things are busy or stressful, a word or a hug can reassure them a huge amount.
- Praise them for what they do well, and encourage them to try new things.
- Be honest about your feelings – you don’t have to be perfect. If you get things wrong and shout or say unkind things from time to time, say sorry afterwards and explain why it happened. They will learn from you that it’s OK to make mistakes and that it doesn’t make you a bad person.
- Be clear about what is and isn’t acceptable – and tell them why. Teenagers are hard-wired to examine and analyse, as they work out for themselves whether they will use their parents’ morals and principles in their own adult lives. Follow through on what you say as otherwise they may lose respect for the boundaries you have put in place.
- You are the parent, so don’t be afraid to take tough decisions. Even the most challenging teenager needs to know that you are there for them and your aim is to keep them safe.
Helping your child
- Talk to your child: Take it gently and be careful how you phrase things. Don’t accuse or judge.. ‘is there anything worrying you?’ is going to go down a lot better than ‘what’s the matter with you today?’ They might not want to talk at first. Let them know you are concerned about them, and are there if they need you. Sending an email or a text can work better with teenagers, or put a really lovely status on your Facebook page about them !
- Ask your child what they think would help – adolescents with emotional difficulties often do not have the confidence to put their own ideas into practice, so encourage them to develop healthy problem solving skills.
- If you can, talk to your child’s other parent about your worries, when the child is not around. They might have a different take on what’s going on. Try and sort out how to deal with the behaviour together so you are using the same approach.
Looking after yourself
- If your child is having problems, don’t be too hard on yourself or blame yourself. Although it can be upsetting and worrying if your child is having a bad time, and it makes your relationship with them feel more stressful, you are not a bad parent.. Children often take it out on those closest to them, so you might be feeling the effect of their very powerful emotions
- If you had a difficult time growing up yourself, or have had emotional problems or mental health problems, it can be very worrying to think that the same thing might happen to your child. But the love and care you show them and the fact that you are trying to help will protect against this. Getting help for them and perhaps for yourself too can give them the best chance of feeling better
- If things are getting you down, it’s important to recognise this. Talk to someone you trust and see what they think. Many people go on struggling with very difficult situations because they feel they should be able to cope, and don’t deserve any help
- Friends and family can often help – don’t be afraid to ask them to have your child for a bit if you need some time out to sort out your own stuff. You can repay them when things get better for you!
- It’s easy to say take some time for yourself but in reality this may not feel possible. You might be too busy, exhausted or can’t afford a hobby. But even a night in with a friend or a ‘coffee and catch-up’ can help.
- Go to your GP if things are really getting on top of you. Asking for some support from your doctor or a referral to a counselling service is a sign of strength, not weakness. You can’t help your child if you are not being supported yourself. Some people worry about being judged and think that their children will be taken away if they admit they are struggling to cope. The role of professionals is to support you to look after your child as well as you can. Taking children away from parents is only ever done in extreme circumstances where the child is in danger or has been abused.
If you live in or near Loughton Essex, you may be interested in joining our new MASH support group which is starting mid-September. See more details on the MASH Home page or email firstname.lastname@example.org