How raising a challenging child can be easier?
Nobody told you parenting is hard work. Correction – it’s very hard work. Nobody told you it’s going to suck the life out of you. Nobody told you kids aren’t angels. Twitter and Instagram only showed you the good side, right?
So your child is driving you crazy. What are you going to do about it? First, take a minute to chew on a few facts-
- Every child is different. Yes, you’ve heard that before. Well, it’s true. Different children, different needs.
- Most parents are different in their parenting styles. Another parent’s perfect parenting recipe may just be perfectly disastrous for your child.
If you think your child is a little monster, it’s possible he or she is a little like one of the following kids. Read on for more information-
- The sensitive child
How will you know if you have a sensitive baby or toddler? If you have a baby or toddler
- Cries incessantly, even if you meet his or her demands
- Is clingy and does not let you out of sight for a minute.
- Is difficult to feed and does not try new food easily.
- Screams if loud noises like the vacuum are introduced.
- Is extremely fearful of strangers and new places.
- Cannot be left with a baby sitter without terrible tantrums.
Sounds like your child? Chances are you have a highly sensitive child. Problems encountered with sensitive children are many, and if you have one, you definitely have faced the entire gamut of them. So how can you manage your child and develop a relationship with him or her?
Take a look at a few parenting tips that may make your job easier-
- It’s easy to react to the perceived ‘misbehavior’ of your child. But just as it is difficult for you to deal with a sensitive child, it is difficult for a sensitive child to deal with the world as well. That’s the first thing you need to understand as the parent of a sensitive child.
- There will always be a tendency to ‘swing’ between harsh parenting and later as you feel guilty of your actions, to resort to overindulgence and pampering mode. The key is to remain consistent in parenting, no matter what.
- It may seem like your child is being difficult deliberately, but that is usually not the case. Try a little empathy instead. Empathy means showing your child that you ‘get’ where he or she is coming from, and are trying to understand what it’s like for him or her. For example, if a child refuses to leave your side at the school gate, try talking him or her through the process of what his or her day will be like in a calm and soothing voice, instead of ordering him or her to get through the door, right now!
- Structure and routine greatly help a child who is easily disturbed by change. Maintain a fixed routine after school such as same play hours and a fixed bedtime routine will help a sensitive child stay calm.
- The ‘Me, Myself and I’ Child
These are the kind of kids who do not trouble their parents at all as babies. But as time progresses, their behavior might start to distress their parents and school teachers. (Please note that in the article’s context, a self-absorbed child is neurotypical).
You probably have a self-absorbed child if your child-
- Is content or satisfied in his or her own world most of the time, a kind of ‘zoned out’ attitude.
- Seems to develop language skills a little late, as compared to children of similar age.
- Doesn’t seem to need a lot of friends.
- Seems to reject your presence or interaction.
So what can you do about it?
- Parenting a self-absorbed child kind of bounces back at you because this kind of child personality doesn’t seem to need you in his or her life at all!
- The key to parent a self-absorbed child is to draw him or her out of his or her shell. You can do this by engaging your child in activities, talk, or friendly banter.
- If your child doesn’t engage with you, you can try to start slowly. Such as figure out what your child likes and start by including yourself in those activities. For example, if he likes Nintendo, join him or her in a game or two. Encourage his or her efforts if they are good or just keep playing.
- It’s important not to do the ‘blame game’ with your child or yourself. There’s no reason why your child is like this, you didn’t make him or her this way, but you can definitely pull him or her out of the funk they seem to be in constantly.
- The Defiant Child
Now, this kid brings out the big guns - he or she is demanding, willful, and hard to please. It’s possible a defiant child’s parents are tearing their hair in frustration most of the time or wistfully envying other people’s ‘perfect’ kids the rest of the while.
You know you’re dealing with a defiant kid if-
- Your child’s favorite word is ‘no!’
- As a baby, your child whines and cries almost always and is not soothed by his or her parent’s efforts to calm him or her down.
- Your child is bossy and controlling in school, doesn’t want to share or play the games other kids want to, most of the time.
- His or her focus is to be perfect and structured, so it is difficult for him or her to take things in his or her stride.
- He or she may also do well in school, getting good grades.
- He or she is really energetic and persistent.
How can you parent your defiant child in the best way possible?
- The key to dealing with a defiant child is not to lock horns with him or her. Parents sometimes deal with the incessant ‘no’s’ of their child - no to dinner, no to do homework, and such by being the bigger bully. Shouting and screaming at a defiant child just makes him or her more
- Try a soothing approach – Insist that your child brushes his or her teeth, but in a gentle manner, without undue threats or shouting. This is more likely to get results than a battle of wits.
- Set rules and be consistent about them. Being soothing and loving doesn’t mean giving in to unacceptable behavior. If you set bedtime at let’s say, 8 in the evening, tell your child calmly that it is bedtime and he needs to begin brushing and getting ready for bed. He or she may shout and scream, but you just repeat firmly the same thing over and over. After a while, the child realizes you will not budge on certain issues.
- Conversely, choose your battles. When something is not crucial to your child’s health and well being, you can let it slide – always. Decide which are non-negotiable issues and consistently enforce those limits. Over time, you can draw up a list of acceptable behavior with your child’s inputs so that he or she feels like he or she has a voice.
- The Daydreaming Child
The daydreaming child seems to live on his or her separate planet. A planet where he or she has a different set of rules to play by.
So how do you recognize such a child?
- The most common feeling you’ll get if your child is the spaced-out kind is that he or she is inattentive and lacking in focus.
- The inattention may not extend to all areas of learning. For example, a child who is bad at math, and may be very good at musical abilities. So it may be a combination of inattention in many areas or maybe just one.
- Your child fidgets, looks away, or promptly ‘forgets’ what you are saying if you’re helping him or her with school work.
- It’s difficult to make your child sustain attention on a single task for extended periods.
So how can you parent an inattentive child?
- The first thing to do is to observe your child’s patterns of inattention. Which are the areas that he or she struggles with? Are these visual, auditory, or motor? Understand the problem first.
- Don’t assume your child is a ‘bad’ child or is deliberately inattentive. Sometimes, the problems with learning get too much for a child and they just zone out.
- Look for your child’s assets. A daydreaming child is already at the receiving end of a lot of comparison with other ‘achieving’ kids and may be prone to low self-esteem. Find out what your child is good at, and encourage his or her efforts in that area.
- Seek help. An inattentive child might be struggling with learning disabilities and special educators have tried and tested techniques that they can help you use to figure out how to make learning easier for your child.
- The Aggressive Child
Whoa! A child struts down the street, and the rest of the kids on the block, cower, and shake. Parents roll their eyes in frustration at the number of times they have to apologize to parents of kids their child is apparently bullying. Sounds familiar?
Well, maybe you have an active or aggressive child. Read on for tips to recognizing one –
- Aggressive parenting generates aggression in children. If your child has experienced violence or abuse in any form, physical, sexual, or emotional, he or she is more likely to take up a physical way of dealing with things.
- Aggression is an outlet of emotions that an aggressive child doesn’t know how to express in a better way.
- Hitting, punching, or getting into fights is the natural way to deal with situations an aggressive child has no control over.
Tips to parent an aggressive child-
- The key to parenting an aggressive child is to be the opposite of an aggressive parent.
- Difficult children need more time and attention from parents. So if you are a working parent, chart out ‘floor time’ or time exclusively for your child, without distractions. Your entire focus should be your child at that time so that your child feels he or she has exclusive time with you.
- Teach your child the appropriate way to deal with things such as if another child makes a hurtful comment; the right way to deal with it would be to ignore it or calmly respond to it. Model and reinforce a calm and collected way of responding to things, and your child will follow.
So you have a ‘difficult’ child. Don’t make things more difficult for yourself or your child by blaming each other for apparent problems. Accept your child, figure out how to reach your child, and most importantly enjoy the glorious years called childhood that you’re going to miss within just a few more years.