Children aren’t born with ‘Instruction Manuals’ attached! We are able to help with information and resources on effective and mindful parenting, discipline that works, and understanding the stages of development, which is essential to good parenting. We coach parents, as well as teachers, in the skills of “therapeutic” communication. This has a healthy effect on people, both adults and children, making us feel better, encouraging us to talk, helping us to express our feelings, fostering a feeling of worth and self-esteem, reducing threat and fear, facilitating positive growth and constructive change.
While a very small number of parents possess these therapeutic skills intuitively and seem to be "naturals", most parents need help to identify their negative and ineffective ways of communicating and then learn more constructive ways of responding to their children. Modern society has affected family life in many ways and both parents and children have to cope with many pressures and stressors that affect their relationships.
Children have different timetables for their development. Although each child has his or her own individual needs, all children go through stages. Don’t immediately assume that a child has learning difficulties if they don’t follow the schedule precisely, remember, Einstein didn’t speak until he was three, but then he came out with whole sentences! It takes some a bit longer than others to be “cooked” in certain areas!
Some things should be checked however, for example, a child who doesn’t speak or respond to verbal communication may have a hearing impairment and it’s sensible to have them checked by a paediatrician or specialist to ensure that there are no physical reasons for this. Sometimes children have wrongly been diagnosed as having “learning difficulties” or “low intelligence”, only for it to turn out much later that they had hearing problems; others may be labelled as having a “social communication disorder” because they are withdrawn or aggressive at school, and then it emerges that they have poor vision and are unable to make out what the teacher is writing on the board and thus become isolated or frustrated. A hearing aid or grommet implant, or the correct glasses, will usually correct such difficulties and the child can then communicate and relate normally.
There’s nothing more likely to cause stress and anxiety to a child than feeling they are being compared with and measured against others all the time! This is why it’s so important to understand and appreciate each child’s individual qualities. If a child is always being compared with an older sibling, the child of another friend or acquaintance, they do not feel as if they can just be themselves and are likely to develop a deep-rooted sense that they are “not good enough”, that no matter how hard they try, they just can’t get it right.
If a child’s achievements are taken for granted, or only merit a brief mention, and their failures or faults are constantly being noticed and commented on, they are likely to become demotivated. They may become withdrawn and listless or struggle to maintain a sense of identity by adopting rebellious and challenging behaviour.
Also remember the power of “labelling”. There has been a lot of research to demonstrate that a child will tend to perform according to our expectations. If we think of a child positively, they’ll generally respond accordingly, however, a child whose parents label them “difficult” is likely to live up to these negative expectations!
A good rule of thumb to observe is that if YOU don’t like something being done to you then your child probably doesn’t like it being done to them!
We run occasional short intensive certificate courses designed for parents, child care professionals and educators on Working with Children, Young People and Families, in which we cover the cognitive, emotional and physical stages of development for the three main groups: 'teenies (0-6), 'tweens' (7 - 12) and 'teens (13 - 19). We also consider different parenting styles and practical techniques for improving communication with children.