In the mind of a child
By Melvin J. Howard
Self-esteem is a major key to success in life. The development of a positive self-concept or healthy self-esteem is extremely important to the happiness and success of children and teenagers. For one reason or another, some children do not develop social skills as easily as others. They may earnestly seek peer relationships and then, having endured rebuffs, if not downright cruelty, retreat to the safety of home, family, and their own company. An understanding of child development is essential, allowing us to fully appreciate the cognitive, emotional, physical, social and educational growth that children go through from birth and into early adulthood. Some of the major theories of child development are known as grand theories; they attempt to describe every aspect of development, often using a stage approach. Others are known as mini-theories; they instead focus only on a fairly limited aspect of development, such as cognitive or social growth. During a child's development from infancy to adulthood, many influences are responsible for shaping their ways of seeing the world, their ideas of their own identity and their place within society. Factors such as environmental setting, family, community and the media all shape a child. In a perfect world, a child would develop successfully into a happily functioning adult, without any problems along the way, however this is not usually the case and many children find that they may struggle throughout the process.
Parents differ on two dimensions' that work together to produce 4 types of parenting styles. These 2 dimension's are demand (made on the child) and response (to the child). Parents who are highly demanding and responsive to their child (accepting, warm and child-centred) are known as authoritative parents. They have an equal relationship with their child and they communicate freely back and forth. Parents who are highly demanding and unresponsive (rejecting, cold and self centred) are known as authoritarian parents and are very controlling, assertive of their power and do not allow the child equal participation in communication. Undemanding parents that are responsive and warm, are known indulgent parents and allow their child to get away with a great deal without attempting to control them. Finally, parents that are undemanding and unresponsive and cold, are known as Neglectful parents and their relationship is indifferent and uninvolved. Parenting style is very important in how the child will behave. Children of parents that use an authoritarian style of parenting tend to lack social competence in dealing with others. They are shy, withdrawn and don't take initiative. They have trouble making decisions and need to look to authority to decide what is right. They lack spontaneity and intellectual curiosity. Children with authoritative parents appear more self-controlled, willing to explore, and more content than children raised in other types of parenting situations. Children of indulgent parents are relatively immature, have difficulty controlling their impulses and accepting responsibility for actions and acting independently.
IN A PERFECT WORLD
In a perfect world, children and teens would grow up to be happy, healthy, functioning adults. However, there are hundreds of influences that they will encounter throughout their early lives that will have an impact on their development - both in negative and positive ways. The following is a brief list of some of the more common problems children and teens may face. There are various issues and disorders that adolescents may face in the turbulent times of their teen years. An adolescent feels all kinds of pressures - from parents, school and peers. They are in a transitional period where they are moving from childhood to adulthood. As well, the influence of peer pressure and the introduction of such pressures from drugs, alcohol and the opposite sex take their toll on any teen.
Parents should be alert to signs of distress in their child or children. Young children may react to divorce by becoming more aggressive and uncooperative or withdrawing. Older children may feel deep sadness and loss. Their schoolwork may suffer and behavior problems are common. As teenagers and adults, children of divorce often have trouble with their own relationships and experience problems with self-esteem. Children will do best if they know that their mother and father will still be their parents and remain involved with them even though the marriage is ending and the parents won't live together. Long custody disputes or pressure on a child to "choose sides" can be particularly harmful in the long run for the youngster and can add to the damage of the divorce. Research shows that children do best when parents can cooperate on behalf of the child. Parents' ongoing commitment to the child's well-being is vital. If a child shows signs of distress, the family doctor or pediatrician can refer the parents to a child and adolescent psychiatrist for evaluation and treatment. In addition, the child and adolescent psychiatrist can meet with the parents to help them learn how to make the strain of the divorce easier on the entire family. Psychotherapy for the children of a divorce, and the divorcing parents, can be helpful.
Anxiety is the fearful anticipation of further danger or problems accompanied by an intense unpleasant feeling (dysphoria) or physical symptoms. Anxiety is not uncommon in children and adolescents. Anxiety in children may present as:
Separation Anxiety Disorder: Excessive anxiety concerning separation from home or from those to whom the child is attached. The youngster may develop excessive worrying to the point of being reluctant or refusing to go to school, being alone, or sleeping alone. Repeated nightmares and complaints of physical symptoms (such as headaches, stomach aches, nausea, or vomiting) may occur.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Excessive anxiety and worry about events or activities such as school. The child or adolescent has difficulty controlling worries. There may also be restlessness, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, irritability, muscle tension, and sleep difficulties.
Panic Disorder: The presence of recurrent, unexpected panic attacks and persistent worries about having attacks. Panic Attack refers to the sudden onset of intense apprehension, fearfulness, or terror, often associated with feelings of impending doom. There may also be shortness of breath, palpitations, chest pain or discomfort, choking or smothering sensations, and fear of "going crazy" or losing control.
Phobias: Persistent, irrational fears of a specific object, activity, or situation (such as flying, heights, animals, receiving an injection, seeing blood). These intense fears cause the child or adolescent to avoid the object, activity, or situation.
Many children experience abandonment issues when they're forced to cope with the absence of a parent, especially when it appears that the absence is voluntary. Sadly, parental abandonment, and its effects, often leave children with lingering questions about their own self worth. As the remaining parent, you can have a huge impact on your child's self-esteem and ability to cope with the absence of the other parent by being alert to the following effects of abandonment in children. Children with abandonment issues may reject everything about the absent parent. In some cases, children who have been abandoned by one parent will make an effort to completely reject him or her. You'll see this when a child expresses the desire to be the exact opposite of the absent parent. Children with abandonment issues may develop poor self-esteem. Children who have experienced parental abandonment may also be prone to developing poor self-esteem and a sense of shame surrounding the parent's absence. They may even question whether they could have contributed to the absence, whether they somehow "deserved" to be abandoned, or whether the absent parent believes he or she is better off without the "burden" of a child.
What Is A Parent To Do:
· Affirm your child's own unique qualities.
· Allow your child to share his or her thoughts and opinions.
· Instead of arguing over your child's rejection of the absent parent, simply respond with a benign statement, such as "I can understand why you might feel that way right now."
· Be very clear in telling your child, repeatedly, that he or she is not at fault.
· Be specific when you praise your child.
· Provide opportunities for your child to develop relationships with other adults, whom you trust, who can also convey genuine, positive messages about your child's abilities, character, and contribution to others.
· When your child does express an emotion, affirm that you still love him - even when he's angry, sad, or frustrated.
· Be trustworthy. Make a special effort not to share your child's confidences with friends and acquaintances.
· Provide regular opportunities to connect with your child, creating an atmosphere where he or she will be free to open up when the time is right.
“Sometimes you need something bigger then yourself to get up in the morning and move mountains for me it's my children.”