Parenting Challenges

Jan 23, 2024

This is not a blog post meant to be critical or judgemental.  So many parents I work with appreciate hearing a different perspective about their child’s behavior.

Hearing a different perspective helps parents understand

a.) why they are getting triggered and

b.) why their child is having a difficult time.  

Here are a few phrases some parents have shared with me that we have discussed- 

When a parent says: “Stop crying. There’s nothing to cry about.”

This is what a child thinks: Well, I can’t help it. I’m just crying. So is something wrong with me? If there’s nothing to cry about, then why am I crying? Again, is something wrong with me? I’m sad and I need my parent’s comfort when I’m sad, but my parent is frustrated and telling me I shouldn’t be crying. So what do I do? I don’t even know why I’m upset, but I’m feeling these feelings and I feel all alone with them. 

As a parent, we should ask ourselves why we need our child to stop crying. What is it about your child crying that makes it difficult for you to hear?  Is it because you think they are faking it?  Is it because you think it isn’t too big of a deal?  

We also should remember that emotional reactions don’t always make sense to us (or our kids). Sometimes big emotions are confusing and scary for kids. They often feel out of control. In the heat of the moment sometimes our kids just need to know there is a safe space for them- and that we are that safe space. 

When a parent says, “if you keep doing that I’m going to lose my temper.”

This is what a child thinks: I’m responsible for my parent’s emotions. I’m not trying to keep doing “that”, but I can’t help it. I want to stop too and if I could, I would. 

As a parent, if we are threatening our child by saying we will lose our temper then that is a clue to us that we need to step away and take a break. Do not put that responsibility on your child. Work out the situation at a later time when everyone is calm and can think clearly. 

When a parent says, “You’re too old to be behaving this way.”

This is what a child thinks:  Something is wrong with me if I am behaving this way.  

As a parent, we have to remember that our kids are developing their brain skills like flexibility, problem-solving, and frustration tolerance until they are in their early twenties.  And brain development is not a linear process.  Many children, can seem really mature one minute and then seem to regress the next minute.  Challenging behavior and their access to their thinking skills are situation and context-dependent.  This is why some kids do well (behaviorally) in school and then have difficulty at home.  Or why some kids easily follow directions at their friends’ houses, but not at their own homes.  

Our role as a disciplinarian is to teach- The word “discipline” is from the Latin word disciplina, meaning “instruction and training.” We are teachers for our children and we are role models.  

Parenting can be hard work and so please remember to offer yourself some kindness and compassion as you walk along this journey, even when you stumble.