Raising children may be more challenging today than at any other time in recent history. Parenting challenges are numerous and include issues such as dual career families, more distance from extended family, more family relocations, and fewer culturally prescribed roles and values in families. Children too are faced with new and stressful challenges. Some of these challenges include more choices and freedoms than ever before, social networking that is distracting and impacting self-esteem, a media highly focused on sex and violence, and a culture that encourages instant gratification. It is no wonder that the self-help child-rearing book industry is booming yet parents seem more confused than ever. Often these parenting books seem to raise more questions rather than provide clear answers.
In the midst of all the questions and confusion about child-rearing, one thing seems clear: most parents want their children to become happy, well adjusted, and responsible adults. In today’s culture, accomplishing this goal is far from easy. Any parent of more than one child can attest to the fact that children come in a variety of “flavors.” Parents of children with “easier” temperaments can rely on their intuition and upbringing as guides for raising kind, happy, and independent children. These parents often comment that “just a look” can bring about a positive behavior change. Then there are the children who are more “spirited” and come into the world kicking and screaming, challenging every rule that their parents try to enforce. Parents of these children are often exhausted when they finally seek help and blame themselves. They are reluctant to share their difficulties with family members or friends for they fear that others will blame their child’s behaviors on flawed parenting and being seen as the inadequate parents that they feel they are. What these parents often do not know is that these more challenging children are not generally a product of flawed parenting. On the contrary, as early childhood researchers Thomas and Chess found many years ago in studying infant behavior, some children are born with a “difficult” temperament. They cry loudly and often, are difficult to soothe, have problems with transitions, and do not respond well to structure and routine. Research suggests that these personality traits appear in early infancy and persist over time. Parenting children with such temperaments is a challenging task. When you add the additional stresses of parenting in today’s culture, it can be truly overwhelming for many parents.
When dealing with these more challenging children in early childhood, questions often arise regarding issues of toilet training, bedtime routines and sleep problems, how to get a child to follow directions, how to use time out, handle homework, get compliance to requests, establish effective routines or how to handle the ever increasing pressures for screen time such as smart phones, video games, texting, and social media.
As children with more difficult temperaments get older, more challenging issues often develop including how to encourage motivation with school work, more involved homework issues, how much freedom to give in a variety of areas, dealing with sexuality, monitoring peer interactions in healthy ways, finding effective modes of discipline, and modeling respectful behaviors.
If you have tried different strategies over time with little success or your particular situation has reached a crisis point, then it is time to seek outside intervention. It is often helpful to have an outside “coach” to hear the perspectives of both parent and child and to help find clear cut solutions to changing unwanted behaviors. The staff at Silber Psychological Services has experience with evidence based treatments and other therapeutic approaches which are particularly useful in helping parents find effective ways to bring about more positive interactions with their children and more desirable behaviors in general. We look forward to working collaboratively with you to resolve issues you are experiencing.