Children should always be properly communicating with their parents. It’s basic, primal even for a child to go to their parents whenever there’s something he needs or wants. However, parents don’t always understand what it is that their children are trying to say, especially the younger ones. We have come up with a list of things children say to their parents every day that you as a parent might not notice.
Recognizing your child’s expressions is the start to really understanding him. It’ll allow you to reinforce that trait (expressiveness) in them and even improve the way they do it. This is very important especially if your child is still very young and might not be able to verbalize all of his emotions as clearly as someone older would be.
Take note that really listening to your children isn’t just about picking up funny things kids tell their parents, although it’s always a joy when that happens. The goal is to become closer to your children through understanding them in their own terms, and correctly reacting to whatever it is they’re trying to tell you. Let’s start with an emotion that’s difficult to understand, but still one of the important things parents should know about their child.
“Mommy I’m Frustrated”
Photo courtesy of AnthonyKelly via Flickr, Creative Commons
When adults feel frustrated, we’re able to recognize it and do something about it. Oftentimes we’ll just take a break and then come back to the problem to tackle it again with renewed fervor.
Kids, however, don’t always recognize frustration. They don’t know what it is and why they feel that way. You could have a very social and happy child, but there might be something that he completely avoids like art or math.
Unlike grown ups, they have no idea what it is they’re feeling. Avoidance to something we dislike is a primal reaction, so that’s what they do. But a much more dangerous reaction can happen as well. Instead of just avoiding something, a child may decide to hate art or math because he can’t do it. He might also start hating himself for not having the ability to do something that everyone else in his age group can do.
This is when mommy and daddy can and should step in to help. The way children should deal with frustration isn’t much different to how we do it. But what’s important is that you as the parent is there to help him figure out how.
First thing you need to do is identify the type of reaction that your child has to frustration. The two mentioned here aren’t exclusive, they’re just among the most common. Once you’re able to do that, encourage your child to find a different way of expressing frustration. Maybe he can take a walk or go play whenever he feels frustrated and tackle the problem again later. You could also encourage your child to come to you and tell you verbally that he’s frustrated whenever it happens so you can help him out.
Explain to your child that frustration is a normal feeling and that even adults like you feel it as well. Tell him that things can become difficult but with constant practice, he will get better and it’ll become easier.
The most important thing to remember while you’re helping your child deal with frustration is encouragement. Recognize every milestone and accomplishment no matter how small it is. This will keep your child interested in his task and motivated in overcoming it.
|Photo courtesy of Alan via Flickr, Creative Commons|
This one is easier to identify because they’ll often say it outright, and even if a child is too young to verbally express his desire to play, it can be inferred from his actions. The problem usually is with the parents.
You have work, chores, and adult responsibilities, not to mention you have to take care of all the other needs of your children. So when your child comes up to you and lets you know he wants to play, you’re not always enthusiastic, regardless of how irresistibly cute he might be.
You might want to play with your child but sometimes, it’s just too exhausting or too much of a hassle when you could use the time to rest. This is becoming so common that some parents are even forgetting how to play with their children.
The advantagesof playground interaction for parents and kids should never be set aside just because you “couldn’t be bothered.” It’s through playground interaction that you encourage early development of your child’s skills. His motor skills, competence, peer group interaction, and cognitive development are all things that can be improved through parent-child play.
So in your schedule, always include a playground project for both parents and kids. If there’s no playground close to your home, do it in the backyard or you can even set up a play space inside your house. It doesn’t have to be a perfect environment, what’s important is that you’re playing with your kids.
If you’re having a hard time figuring out what to play, think back to when you were children, what games did you play with your parents? Give it enough thought and you’ll find something to do that can be fun for the whole family.
|Photo courtesy of ChrissyEastwood via Flickr, Creative Commons|
Anger in children is easy to spot and is something that should never be ignored by parents. It can get frustrating to deal with a child’s tantrums but there’s usually a root cause to it. Finding that cause is the start to dispelling the emotion and will give you a chance to teach your child how to properly be angry.
Yes, there’s a proper way to get angry or at least a proper way to express it. Anger is another primal emotion and it’s perfectly normal for your child to feel it. You feel it too, right? You’re just able to control and express it better. That’s exactly the skill that you need to teach your child as he grows up.
When you’re dealing with very young children, you need to be firm and draw the line with them. They have almost no inhibitions and when they want something, they want it immediately. At this stage you should let your child know that there are some things that are just not acceptable. It’s good for them to know early that you understand that they can be very volatile, especially if that’s their temperament, but you’re not going to accept certain behaviors.
It’s also important at this stage to tell your child exactly why he’s angry. Let’s say he starts crying because you put him down and are too tired to carry him anymore. Ask him, “You’re angry because I can’t carry you anymore, aren’t you?” It’s a little redundant to us because we instantly understand as adults why the child is crying. But to the child, words will allow him to make sense of his feelings. Then continue to explain to him why you can’t carry him.
At over 2 years old, children are already at that stage in their life where they understand words but they may not always understand what they’re feeling. So as a parent, you should be helping them make sense of not only the things around them, but also the things they feel inside of them.
As early as possible you should teach your children to use words to express anger. They don’t really understand their emotions and they don’t know any other way to express them so they cry or become physical (jump around, bang on something, throw stuff, etc.). They may even hit you sometimes. But as they grow older, they become more capable of understanding and using words. So as soon as you can, you’ll want to transition them to words.
We all have different temperaments; children do as well. Helping children recognize and control theirs is the job of the parents and is best done while they’re young. The better the children become at this, the easier it’ll be for them to integrate into society.
|Photo courtesy of AikaweKe via Flickr, Creative Commons|
Sadness is something that all humans feel regardless of how old they are. It can be caused by many things but the most common one is grief for a loss. It can be the loss of a loved one, an object, an environment, a relationship, or even the loss of a pet.
As a parent, it’s important for you to know that your child experiences grief and sadness just like you do, but they may express it in a different way. What’s troublesome is that not all children express sadness the same way.
Children can become aloof, dissociable, angry, clingy, they may not want to go to school anymore, or they may lose their appetite. It can even be a mix of these as well as other things like not being able to concentrate or becoming upset for no reason.
As already mentioned earlier, children don’t always understand their feelings. So they don’t react to sadness the same way we do. But just like adults, they need support and they need it even more than grown ups do sometimes.
Using the example of loss, the loss of a pet can be an extremely sad experience to a child. Very young children don’t completely understand the concept of loss and how permanent it is. As they grow older they start to recognize its permanence but still won’t be able to comprehend it completely.
As a parent, what’s most important in these situations is creating an environment where your child is able to express his emotions to you freely. Maybe you can do it through play or through artwork. You need to show and tell your child that you are there for them and are ready to listen if there’s ever anything that he needs to get off his chest.
If you think that a sudden change in your child’s behavior is because of a loss or because of any other occurrence that might be making him sad, you need to talk to him about it. Children don’t always know how to talk to you about their emotions, so leading questions and conversations can help them open up.
If they have a lot of questions for you about a loss or an event that makes them sad, take the time to answer all of them. It’s their way of trying to make sense of their feelings and what’s happening around them.
Another important thing to note is that you should be honest with your child when they ask you difficult questions about loss. Don’t lie to them just because you know they’ll believe you. They’re at a stage in their life where they need to understand things, even the difficult realities. So tell them the truth.
Raising a child is a difficult but wonderful experience. It’s also a grave responsibility. You have in your care a life or several lives. What you do, how you treat them, what you show them, and what you say to them will have a substantial effect on who they’ll become in the future.
So raise your children well. Talk to them always, encourage them, show them you love them, and teach them. Never ever forget to listen to them. Because even if they are just children, they also have a lot to say.