Mentally Fragile and Challenged Child and Teen
The parenting journey is a bumpy road at best. The goal is to develop independent young adults who are able to manage, cope and thrive with their individual footprint on what life has to offer. When parenting Emotionally Fragile and Challenged Children and Teens a parent needs skills that are sensitive for this population with all their strengths and challenges.
Underlying all emotional fragility is anxiety. Each individual is born with a genetic predisposition towards levels of anxiety that can also be described as sensitivity. Our environment, family dispositions and functioning create the tapestry where parents and children paint the strokes that describe our thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Our mutual anxiety levels influence how we interact and manage our difficulties and turn them into assets rather than liabilities.
The family system as well as the school and other forces influence the behaviors of its members. Our children respond not only to their parents, siblings, but to teachers, classmates and administrators. Many emotionally challenged children and teens get the attention of their parents and school environment especially if they “Act Out”. The attention they get might not be the attention they need to modify their behaviors, but they are heard and seen. The child and teen who “Acts In” can go under the radar and not be identified by parents and larger systems until the child or teen takes bold and sometimes even dangerous steps to deal with his frustrations, pain and sense of not belonging. For some, the acting in behavior can be contained until the child becomes a teen.
As you know, the teen years are fraught with the attempt of the child to become his own person that requires him to assert himself. This is the beginning of the teen learning to differentiate from parents to assert and identify his individuality. The fragile child who has been quiet and introverted (acting in) sometimes experiences so much inner conflict that when he finally wants to express himself his thoughts and actions can become dangerous to himself and others. The acting out teen can continue his acting out from childhood but parents are more prepared since they have been dealing with this type of behavior since childhood.
So how can parents help the emotionally fragile and challenged child and teen to develop a better sense of self and become the best they can be? Creative Loving Parenting is a program that enables parents to parent their children and teenagers to develop a good sense of self-esteem, compassion and relatedness within themselves and with others.
Creative Loving Parenting Includes:
- Reduce your own anxiety.
- Teach our child/teen how to converse by teaching them how to listen creatively by your example: Give eye contact and full attention.
Repeat what they say in a loving manner. Respond in an empathic and caring way
- Set boundaries and limits between you and your child/teen (teach what you expect).
- Project positive expectations rather than negative.
- Set realistic expectations.
- Reinforce positive behaviors
- When you discipline---follow through.
- Set up a reward system rather than a punishment. You do your chores or show appropriate behaviors, you earn play time, computer time, T.V. time, etc. Remember punishment works only when the punisher is around. We want as parents to help the child internalize positive and healthy behaviors.
- Don’t shame your child/teen because it lowers self-esteem.
- Don’t compare your child to another. It lowers his/her self-esteem.
- Give one message.
- Disciplined parents can teach discipline to their child/teen.
- Set rules by doing the following:
Rules are valuable only to children/teens who can follow them.
a. Carefully observe your child/teen
b. Analyze the problem
c. Set rules
d. Be consistent in applying rules
- Show children/teens how to problem solve through your actions.
- Make time to have fun with your child/teen.
- Be patient with yourself and your child/teen.
- Get help from professionals.
- There is no room for secrecy and shame.
- Mistakes are wonderful if we learn from them.
- If you have a spiritual connection utilize it to teach yourself and children/teens the larger meaning of life which means to know what is important and let go of the small stuff.
- Pick your battles and win the war.