Article from Mamas & Papas
Index of articles on this page
Discipline is the punishment or consequences for unacceptable behaviour. When a child is disciplined it is important that your child understands why he/she is punished. Discipline does not necessarily have to be physical punishment, but for the school aged child it can be less relaxation time for example.
Before you discipline your child, your child needs to know which behaviour will be punished and what punishment to expect. Punishment needs to appropriate for the infringement and the child’s age. Give approximately two warnings before punishing your child, but do not give empty warning.
Performance anxiety is a severe fear of failure and other people’s reaction to the failure. Performance anxiety is caused by social settings and/or situations in which the child needs to perform. This might be situations for instance where the child needs to complete a task in a specific time frame, where success is expected of the child or the child lacks the confidence to complete the task.
Anxiety can be caused by:
Genetics – a family member/members suffering from anxiety;
Chemical (serotonin) imbalance in the brain;
Environmental factors – such as stressful or traumatic events.
Parents need to be patient and understanding of the child’s anxiety. Do not punish your child for anxiety. Routine is very important for the child suffering from anxiety. Situations need to be very predictable and/or need to be explained to your child. Change your child’s diet to minimise the intake of dietary sugars and chemical foods as that also increase anxiety. Relaxation exercises can help your child to cope in stressful events. In cases of severe anxiety the child might benefit from play therapy.
The anxious child needs support from the parents to cope with social settings and situations. Be a patient parent with understaning of your anxious child and the situation will already improve.
All children need boundaries to know which behaviour is acceptable and which is unacceptable.
The child learns to distinguish between right and wrong,
What is appropriate and inappropriate behaviour.
What is seen as acceptable and unacceptable behaviour in society.
Boundaries should already be set when the child is still a baby. When children are exposed to boundaries from a very young age, they become used to the idea that boundaries are set for their well-being. The boundaries set by parents will help the child to develop a secure personality. In cases where no boundaries are set, the children feel unsure of what is acceptable and what is not acceptable. They will not be able to predict when they will be punished or rewarded for certain behaviour.
Boundaries set by parents should be age appropriate and should fit to the childrens’ developmental level and personality.
If you know your children, you will be able to determine how strict the boundaries should be and when to be more lenient. Every child is different and unique, thus the boundaries for each might differ. The older child will have more and stricter boundaries, where the much younger child might need less boundaries or more leniency from the parents. In other cases the school aged child may need more leniencies e.g. bedtime, where the toddler needs to go to bed earlier.
To raise healthy children, the parents need to set healthy boundaries. When children grow up without boundaries, insecure and unsure children will develop.
Motivation is a way of supporting children to achieve their goals.
Positive motivation can be described as any behaviour that gives children reason for performing and doing their best. Positive motivation can include verbal encouragement or rewards. Motivation can help children to improve their performance and try their best at the tasks they take on.
Healthy motivation from parents and teachers can assist children even into young adulthood, choosing the right career and making a success of their futures.
Reward your children for good work done or for good behaviour. Rewards need not be big or expensive gifts, but extra play time or extra quality time with the parents can also be considered as a reward.
But not all motivation is healthy. Negative motivation can include unfair punishment, encouragement for bad behaviour, verbal threats or any other behaviour that causes distress with children. This type of motivation from parents, teachers or friends should be avoided at all cost.
Positive motivation gives children the courage to do their best and improve their performance. Avoid negative motivation as this breaks children down.
Bullying is any verbal or physical behaviour that is aggressive of nature that harms or injures any other person.
Bullying behaviour is the result of aggression and/or unexpressed emotions that the child can not handle in a positive way. Bullying can also be a result of copied behaviour seen at role models e.g. aggressive parents, siblings, friends or movie stars as children learn through observation of other’s behaviour. It is thus important that a child has positive role models and friends. The relationships at home should also be positive. Punishment should be of such nature that it does not communicate aggression to the child, but rather that of love of caring parents.
Create healthy alternatives for the child to express emotions like anger in an appropriate manner. Physical activities can help a child to use up all the build-up energy in the body. Therapy can also assist children to cope with their situations and to deal positively with their emotions.
The victim of bullying is usually the quiet, well-mannered child that can not stand up against a bully. The parents and teachers need to support the victim of bullying by protecting these children and teaching them basic skills to handle the situation. Parents should inform the school as soon as it is known that the child is being bullied.
The parents of both the bullies as well as the victims of bullying need to seek professional guidance to support both parties of bullying behaviour.
First it is necessary to distinguish between the terms depression and sadness. Sadness is short-term emotions for negative or sad experiences. Depression is a long-term emotion of sadness and helplessness and negativity towards him/herself and the environment.
Depression is caused by an imbalance of the hormones named serotonin released in the brain. This is something your child can not control or change. Medication though, can fix the imbalances so that your child can function without depression. Depression becomes a problem when it hinders children for normal functioning; that means when children are not up to participating in every day basic activities as before.
To support depressed children you can motivate them to talk about their emotions or else draw or write about the depressed thoughts and emotions. If your child’s depression does not go away after a few months or it worsens, it might help to take your child to a therapist or psychologist. Do not punish children for depressed thoughts and emotions as depression is something they can not control.
Medication or therapy can help depressed children to cope with every day activities.
One of the rules of nature is that children need to be taken care of by adults. In some households it is just not possible for an adult or parent to raise the children. Some parents work away from home as this is the only opportunity for getting an income. Because of HIV/AIDS many children are left behind after one or both parents passed away as a result of this virus.
Children sometimes have their hands full solving their own problems and handling what ever life throws at them. Some children are given the responsibility of solving siblings’ problems, taking care of them and raising them. This responsibility placed upon the child who is caring for and raising siblings can cause much distress, anxiety, depression, sleeplessness and poor academic performance, which can lead to low self-esteem. If the child can not fulfill the siblings’ basic needs, such as food and clothing, the child may become involved in criminal activities e.g. theft, to be able to look after the siblings.
In situations like these, the community needs to offer support to these child-headed homes. Taking the children into ones own home is not always possible, but by donating food, give emotional support, financial contributions, solving problems or just helping with homework, will already take a lot of distress from the child taking care of the siblings.
This is not a far-fetched scenario. In rural areas, this is a very common arrangement. These children desperately need support, else they might engage in disruptive, violent or criminal activities.
Sibling conflict is a normal and unavoidable experience within every family. Maybe you as parent wants to differ, but I can assure you, this happens in the best of families. Through sibling conflict children start to practice how to handle conflict situations in later life. They learn to defend themselves and to assume a point of view. They get the opportunity to explore conflict situations within a safe environment.
Sibling conflict becomes dangerous when the siblings are aggressive and hurt each other in such a way that medical attention is needed.
Parents can support their children by creating opportunities for the siblings to play and solve problems together, compromise and to share their toys with each other. Teach your children to handle conflict in an effective manner by giving them tasks to do together. When needed, facilitate the process of conflict by guiding them by what to say and do and how to react. Parents should also use effective and positive ways of handling conflict in their relationships as children tend to learn more through observation.
Parents need to be positive role models for their children in terms of handling conflict, facilitate the conflict situations between siblings and intervene when sibling conflict becomes violent.
Children reach puberty at approximately 12 years of age. During puberty adolescents experience many emotional and physical changes. Young adolescents need to be explained what to expect during this stage. There are very effective books available for you and your adolescent child to read together. Give your child the opportunity to ask questions, even if you feel uncomfortable with this situation. Prepare your child for emotional and physical changes that will take place and give your child the reason for the sudden changes. Young adolescents need to hear that these changes are normal and that he/she is not the only one going through this process. You might feel uncomfortable talking about this topic to your child, but the young adolescent feel much more uncomfortable taking about a topic they barely have any knowledge about.
During this stage friendships play a vital role in the adolescent’s life. Teach the child the necessity of good friendships with positive influences. As the child’s physical development progresses the child should also know how to respect and take care of his/her body. Bad friends might have a negative influence on your child’s self-respect and morals. Peer pressure might influence your child in taking part in experiencing in negative behaviour such as taking drugs and practicing sexual behaviour.
Adolescents need patient parents to guide them to adulthood by setting clear boundaries, listening to the child and dry the tears without asking too many questions.