Life is challenging for everyone, including your kids! Moorelands Kids cares about you and your family and we want to help. To do so, we’ve prepared some tips for parents on how to help your child through challenging times.
Whether you know it or not, children and youth go through challenging times. As parents/guardians, these challenges may not look the same as they do for you and the challenges can be drastically different than what you expect.
As a parent, it is important that you journey through difficult times with your kids by utilizing the Moorelands Habits and Qualities. This will help you stay grounded, positive and productive and get you and your child through difficult circumstances. Check out the following tips for ways to navigate your child through difficult periods in their life.
1. NOTICING MAJOR BEHAVIOURAL CHANGES
When it comes to helping your child through challenging times, it is important to, first and foremost, notice any behavioural changes in their life. If you don’t notice them at first, that’s okay! When you take the time to do this, you might notice signs of increased anxiety/stress. These sings look like:
- withdrawal, difficulty concentrating and acting out;
- refusing to go to school—a need to be attached to you;
- reacting negatively to stressors;
- and difficulty sleeping.
Remember that are many more signs in your child’s behaviour that you may notice as a parent. In this stage, take note of any challenging circumstances that may influence your child’s behaviour. Doing so will help you get to the root of the problem and address the stressors directly.
The observation stage when supporting your child is what helps you measure the similarities and differences between the behavioural changes. The things you may observe are…
- growth spurts;
- mood swings;
- healthy or unhealthy behaviour;
- and changes to your child’s experience of the world around them.
In this stage, you should grow more confident in identifying the best way to support your child. This will help you better understand and empathize with them through this period of their life.
3. UNDERSTAND AND EMPATHIZE
To empathize you have to better understand what empathy is. Only then can you undertake the process of understanding and empathizing with your child to help them through their challenges. When you understand how to empathize with your child, you know that:
- No matter how big or small a problem/stress may seem, a problem is still a problem!
- Children/youth don’t often have the vocabulary to express or the habits/toolsets that adults have for managing heightened emotions
Helping your child during difficult periods in their life is not an easy task. Here are some tips for parents that are learning about what this process might look like:
- Think about how you would react if you were in that position (sometimes it isn’t any better than what they are doing!)
- Ask about how your child is feeling to show that you care
- Avoiding trying to fix-it right away (you might miss the root of the problem this way)
- Ask open-ended questions to gain insight into the child’s position
4. LISTEN: EMPATHIZING PART 2
Through every dark period in your child’s life being an empathetic parent is crucial. Your child needs this from you; often, children need someone to simply listen. If you’re wondering what effective listening looks like, then we’ve got you covered.
- Your child can learn to identify their own feelings just by talking to you about it. Listening to how they feel validates it rather than ignores the problem.
- Listening is encouraging for kids to understand that negative emotions are a normal part of life!
- Reiterate and reaffirm what the child is telling you — it shows them you are listening, clarifies what you understand and shows that you are caring.
- Validation through listening does not mean you agree, it just means that you understand that the challenge they are facing is real.
5. DISCUSS AND IMPLEMENT
When it comes to your response when helping your child through difficult periods in life, there are several steps to keep in mind.
Step 1: BOUNDARIES
Boundaries are the metaphorical lines you draw to keep your child safe. It might be hard to set them when your child disagrees, but sometimes they might need some time alone or are simply not aware of their own actions. Setting boundaries during (and hopefully before) these challenging times helps them grow their emotional intelligence so they can better cope with various stressors.
Step 2: JOURNALING
Journaling is a useful tool that allows one to externalize their emotions and better process them. It helps one to express their thoughts and understand them better. Often when one writes about their problems it can be cathartic, and releases tension and stress.
Step 3: FEELINGS MAP
A safe and healthy way to respond to added stress is to help your child map out their feelings. It may seem silly at first, but having a visual map to describe feelings/emotions can give you and your child a way to decompress.
There are many ways to create a feelings map, which you can read about here. Simply put, a child can draw or point to the emotion, which encourages the child to be aware of their bodily reactions and gives you insight into their physical experience.
6. GET HELP
If things aren’t getting better, or if they are but you are still worried, get help from a qualified professional! Sometimes we think we can do it on our own, but we shouldn’t have to with community around us! Moorelands Kids uses community to empower youth into leadership and that same power can be applied to your situation as well.
Some resources you can use are…
- Your doctors! Talk to a doctor (paediatrician, psychiatrist, etc.) about what’s going on; sometimes intense emotions/feelings could be related to our overall health
- Kids Help Phone
- Black Youth Helpline
- Other resources that can be found here
Let’s take care of each other inside and out. Moorelands Kids not only cares about you, but we believe that, as a community, we can get through anything.
by Angel Persaud and Kyle Dedecker
Join Our Community
Join Our Community
Want to be part of a community that believes in YOU! See below.
Join Our Community
Make a difference in a young person’s life!
Moorelands Kids is committed to helping Youth in adversity – and you can too! See below