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Supporting Children Through Difficulty

Wednesday, August 28, 2013 @ 11:08 PM

Concept Photo - overwhelmed

The beginning of the school year marks a definite change in routine. Even if your children have completed their studies, you’ll note the shift in your communities. Traffic explodes. Schedules stretch to their max and stress levels skyrocket for both adults and children. In this pressure cooker of competing priorities, conflict is inevitable. Mistakes will happen and solutions must be developed.

What is the best way to confront problems? First, identify who owns the problem. Is it the parent or the child? For parents of kids with trauma histories, an added dimension exists: distinguishing between rescuing and support. Children learn through experience and the most powerful lessons arise from failure. It is important to reinforce a child’s capabilities. Convey an expectation that they can and will create a successful resolution. Elicit their ideas in a way that acknowledges their approach and encourages them to tackle the issue.

If they’re stuck for ideas brainstorm how “some kids have solved similar problems by doing _____” (Insert some successful strategies) Allow them to adapt the information to their situation. After they have come up with suggestions, if they still want your input, offer it. Rushing to rescue and problem solve sends a subtle message of incapability, weakens confidence and reinforce your child’s need for rescue.

Adoptive moms and dads may find themselves still actively parenting their “new adult” children. Many adoptees with recurring trauma patterns experience a gap between chronological age and emotional age. Their peers may be fully independent while your child still requires intensive nurturing and guidance. Eventually parents will be able to retire to a less active role. Until that time arrives, make your assistance available when they request it. Help your children to recognize and manage their own triggers. Encourage them to develop ways to soothe themselves. As their abilities develop  parents can retire from their Team 911 duties and become their child’s biggest champions.

How will you remind them that regardless of their behavioral choices, your love remains unconditional and distinct from your approval or disapproval of their behavior? How do you model this in your relationships with family, friends and co-workers? What steps have you taken to confirm that the message you intend is the one they are receiving? How many different ways can support look? And how is it distinct from rescuing?

2 Responses to “Supporting Children Through Difficulty”

  1. lynnc says:

    Learning how to walk that fine line between rescuing and supporting has been a long and winding path. My children may not like taking on their choices and challenges at the time, but they always come back to tell me how much they appreciated my letting them figure it out. It is at this point I can reinforce my unconditional love and care for them.

  2. Susan D says:

    Just reading through the steps you have outlined gives me calm!

    Perhaps it is a natural reaction to want to go in and fix the problem and make it “all better.” Yet as you point out and in my own case, when I have done that I have robbed my children of their own unique experience — experience that leads to learning and understanding.

    Absolutely love unconditionally! I think that it so challenging now days with all of the expectations put on children. But we must be persistent and patient and keep mindful of this most important role of a parent.

    Thank you for the thoughtful reminder as we move through difficulties, large or small.

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