Children are open and sincere, but not always when talking about their worries. There can be many reasons why they do not share their concerns - they may be afraid of being subject to disapproval, they may want to avoid making you worry about themselves, or they lack the ability to express their thoughts and concerns in words.
- Five suggestions on how to encourage your child to talk about their worries
Take the child's concerns seriously
Concerns may vary in content but cannot be ranked in order of magnitude. Even if the child's concern seems insignificant on the surface, it must be taken into account that it can be mentally a very difficult situation for the child. Try to understand the child's each concerns, listen carefully, think along, and let them know that you care and want to help.
Be curious about the child
In addition to checking homework, be interested in your child's feelings, thoughts, and experiences - how their day went, what were their favorite moments, and what caused difficulties. Show initiative, start conversations, find out about the child's hobbies and friends, or discuss other current topics. The more reliable and consistent your communication is, the more the child will feel that they can turn to you if they have concerns.
Listening is important
In the case of concerns, parents immediately think about solving them - but in fact, you should not rush with it because the ability to listen also plays a very important role. Often just listening is enough because it gives the child the opportunity to open up and just talk without someone immediately offering solutions. Urgent questions should be avoided, and you should put offering solutions to hold - the child must have the opportunity to solve their problems by themselves.
Allow the child to choose their own pace
Every parent wants to help their child as much as possible. However, there may be situations where excessive help does not bring a solution to the situation. If the child indicates that they do not want to share their worries, they should not be forced to do so. The child must be given time and assured both verbally and non-verbally that whenever they want to talk, we are ready to listen to them.
Share your feelings
The child should be encouraged to talk about their feelings, but the example of the parent also plays an important role here. Sharing one's feelings safely should be a part of any relationship. If a parent is upset from a hard day, they can also verbalize their mood to family members: "I had a really hard day today; I'm tired and grumpy." In this way, children also see that it's okay to feel feelings and to talk about their problems as well.
- When a child and a parent fight...
The older children get, the more situations arise where some conflicts between children and parents can be easily resolved, but some conflicts cannot be resolved. This is completely normal. It is important to deal with these conflicts when they arise and work through them with the children in a kind and calm way. Regardless of the child's age, there is always a high probability of getting into a conflict with the child over some issue. By consciously teaching your children how to resolve conflicts and arguments in a positive way, they are being taught valuable life lessons—even if they aren't very fun.
In case of quarrels between parents and children:
- If a solution is not found immediately, take time to find it. The parties to the conflict should try to resolve the situation immediately, but if you don't know what to say or do, you just have to admit it to yourself and say: "We'll talk about it a little later." This signals to the child that the problem will not be forgotten but will definitely be dealt with later.
- It is important to listen to the child's point of view. Parents must also listen to the child's point of view. It is important for a child to be listened to and understood.
- Clear rules and a clearly communicated message to the child. A parent must convey a clear message about what behavior is acceptable and what is not. Conflicts often start when children understand that a parent is uncertain about some rules or, on the contrary, is too strict about some rules. The most effective child-rearing is one where there are clear rules, which at the same time value children's opinions and ideas.
- You are not alone with your problems. Often, by talking to others about your problems, you discover that you are not the only one who has such practical problems with children. If the parent feels that they are not alone in their concern, they will gain the strength to deal with the problem further and find a solution.
- Stay calm. Calm conflict resolution measures must be used, as children will model this behavior.
- Credit each other for finding a solution. If the conflict/problem has found a solution, then this must also be emphasized, and the parties of the conflict should commend each other for it. As a parent, one often focuses only on the problem instead of focusing on the solutions that have been found together.
- Ten recommendations for parents: this is how you make the cyber environment safer for your child
As parents, we want our children to grow up to be good, happy, and self-sufficient people. In today's society, in addition to everyday life skills, children must also be taught how to manage the digital world in the best way. How can a parent support their child so that the child knows how to use the cyber environment safely?
Remember that what you have taught your child about being a good person also applies in the digital world. Explain to your child that you have to behave in the same manner on the Internet as you do at home, kindergarten, or school.
An example teaches better than talking. Remember that the child imitates your behavior - observe how and how often you are online, what you do there, and what example you set.
The ability to manage in the digital world is essential and requires learning. Keep yourself up to date with developments in the digital world. Educate yourself about the possibilities and risks of using the Internet and smart devices, and talk about them with your child.
Identify the websites you want your child to visit. There are many age-appropriate and educational websites on the Internet that offer opportunities for learning and play.
Agree with the child on the rules for the use of the Internet and smart devices, and also monitor their fulfillment by both parties. The agreed rules should be prepared according to the child's age and updated as the child grows and their skills and knowledge increase.
Accompany your child also in the digital world. Be interested in what the child is doing on the Internet - visit the same websites and social networks together, play games the child likes - find a common interest. Talk to the child about why they like a certain environment or activity.
Be social media savvy yourself. Be interested in what apps and services your family members and friends use. You may find that by trying a few online environments or apps, and you will begin to better understand both social media and why your child enjoys it.
Stay connected with your child on social media, but respect their privacy there too. Discuss with the child how they would like to be connected to you and other family members on social media and what information, including photos and videos, would be reasonable for the child to share about themselves and their family members. When uploading photos and videos yourself, consider the child's interests and ask the child's permission before posting a photo of them on the Internet.
Explain to the child that pictures, videos, e-mails, and texts uploaded somewhere on social media or on a website can exist forever within the vast expanse of the Internet and can later cause a lot of discomfort and damage.
In online environments, children can develop friendships and even love relationships. Make sure that the person interacting with your child is really who they say they are, and also explain to your child the downsides and dangers of such interactions.
Always try to understand before you judge. The child needs to know that no matter what happens, they can tell their loved ones about it.
If you don't have all the answers right away, you can find them out. You can find useful information about using the Internet and smart devices on the website www.targaltinternetis.ee
The online police also share advice and information on the site https://www.politsei.ee/et/veebipolitseinikud.
Always remember that a computer or smart device cannot replace a parent!
- A note to the parent
- In all emotionally charged situations, the responsibility lies with the parent. The child does not have to deal with their feelings - an adult does.
- Learn to notice and manage your feelings, and it helps to maintain adult understanding, patience, and peace in any situation.
- Every feeling has an upswing, a peak, and a downswing. If you happen to be very upset (at the top), you should move away from the situation because your overheated brain can't think clearly, either. An adult's physiological and psychological peace is completely restored approx. 1.5 h after the emotional peak.
- If you've been easily irritable for a long time, dig deep into yourself: what in your life outside of children might need balancing: your relationship? or other important relationships? Work? Finances?
- Be really there for your child. The most common reason for children to become "bad" is the emotional unavailability of a parent: the inability to be in contact and in dialogue.
(family therapist Meelike Saarna)