Page 26 Parenting - Sláinte Magazine
IS YOUR CHILD A SECRET
It’s very frustrating for parents when they know that something is bothering their child, but they either refuse to discuss it or insist there’s really nothing wrong. Child Clinical Psychologist Anne O'Connor explains the best ways to encourage your child to talk about their worries.
There can be several reasons why
experiencing difficulties in the form
They need to hear that you love
your child might find it hard to
of bullying or abuse, one of the
them no matter what. Emphasise
discuss their worries with you or
main reasons they may not want to
that the problem lies with whoever
any other adult. So the first step is
talk about it is the fear of what
is teasing them. If your child is very
to understand what’s preventing
would happen if they do. They may
reluctant to talk to you and you
your child from confiding in you.
have been warned not to tell
suspect they may be ashamed of
Here are some of the more
anyone or they may be afraid the
what’s been happening, be
situation will get worse if they tell
prepared to give them plenty of
someone. If this is the case, you
time and reassurance before they
will need to offer reassurance to
begin to open up to you.
scared TO TELL
Sometimes children can be
your child– explain that adults often find solutions that don’t get the child into more trouble, and so on.
frightened by the consequences of
trying to SHIELD YOU!
‘telling’. If this is the case, you may have to do some preparatory work with them before you can expect your child to open up. This work may take place over a few weeks
THEY FEEL THEY’VE
Sometimes children are teased
in some way – maybe their family
AND YOU DOWN
dresses differently, or comes from
because their parents are different
and consist of gentle
Often, when children are the
a different country, for example.
suggestions and reassurances
victims of bullying or abuse, they
These children may attempt to
feel they have let themselves and
shield their parents by not telling
by telling you about their
their parents down. Also, they may
them what is happening. If you
problem. If you know of
feel that they are to blame in some
suspect this, you can address this
that they’ll have nothing to fear
particular concerns they have, (fears that bullying will get worse if they tell you about it, for example), you should address those concerns first before
way for what’s happening to them.
issue first before asking them
For example, the child who is
what’s wrong. Discuss diversity in
constantly being teased about their
society and how cultural
weight will come to see their
differences can lead to
weight as the root of the problem
misunderstanding. Some people
and not the bully.
feel threatened when faced with
expecting your child to confide in you. If your child is
the unfamiliar and respond by If you find yourself in this situation,
being mean and teasing the
you may need to look for extra help
person they perceive to be
from the school. It can take a long
different. If your child
time to undo the damage done by
understands this message, they
this type of bullying, and the
will be more likely to understand
important first step is to get a
what’s happening and be able to
picture of what is happening. At
tell you about it.
this stage, the child needs a lot of reassurance and love.
For more information, visit www.RollerCoaster.ie – Ireland’s No. 1 website for pregnancy and parenting information and advice.
Your role as a parent Listen to your child – it’s very important to children that they’re not put under too much pressure to talk about worries and that, when they do open up, their parents are listening. When our children begin to explain something difficult to us, we may begin to ask too many questions and pressurise them for more and more details. Often, we don’t give ourselves a chance to listen calmly and attentively and respond to the distress our child may be expressing.
1. Give enough time or space to talk – your child may choose an inconvenient time for you to talk about their worries – just as you’re leaving for work, or rushing to get them to sports in time, for example. So if you can’t give their worries any major attention straightaway, make sure you get back to them later. But if at all possible, try to give your child time and space to chat with you. Most things can wait and the attention you give your child now not only signals to them how seriously you take them, it also takes some pressure off them
2. Foster an open relationship – you can also work at creating an atmosphere at home that fosters open communications and relationships between all family members. It is usually easier for children to approach parents with their worries if they are used to having chats and discussions with them. You need to be constantly aware of creating spaces in your lives that are shared, relaxed times that you spend together. Look at developing interests with your child to allow you to spend time with them.
3. It can be easy to spot that your child is worried about something, but sometimes the challenge is to enable them to talk about these worries. Having a close relationship with your child with open and trusting communication will help. Also, trying to sensitively address the things that are preventing your child from speaking with you is important. And when your child does begin to share their worries, your ability to listen before jumping in with a response is crucial.
Published on Mar 8, 2014