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Not All Childhood Emotional Neglect is the Same: 5 Different Varieties

Source link: https://blogs.psychcentral.com/childhood-neglect/2020/05/not-all-childhood-emotional-neglect-is-the-same-5-different-varieties/

Coming between a child and his feelings should not be an easy thing to do.

After all, every child’s feelings are literally neurologically and biologically wired into them. Every child’s feelings are a crucial expression of their deepest selves. Every child’s feelings are a vital resource for connection, direction, stimulation, and motivation for a lifetime.

And yet, it happens all the time. Lovable, adorable children grow up in homes where their parents are simply not able to fully see, know, or adore them. Sweet, healthy children reach out to their moms and dads for emotional support and too often find it lacking. Excited, energetic children just want to share their pure joy with their parents and too often end up being tamped down instead.

Childhood Emotional Neglect or CEN happens when your parents fail to respond to your emotions enough. Believe it or not, that is all they need to do to separate you from your feelings for a lifetime

Childhood Emotional Neglect is far more common in this world than any of us would care to believe. Every household is different and every child is different. But every time Childhood Emotional Neglect happens in the life of a child, no matter what form it takes, it leaves its indelible footprint there.

This simple definition says a lot about what CEN is, but the reality is that not all Childhood Emotional Neglect is the same. It can be quite a complicated thing and it can happen in many different ways. Keep in mind that you may have experienced just one of these versions of CEN or even all of them.

5 Varieties of Childhood Emotional Neglect

1. Physical Presence

Was one or both of your parents physically present enough as they raised you to meet your needs for supervision, attention, and response? When most people first hear the term, “Childhood Emotional Neglect,” this is the kind they think of. They assume it refers to a latch-key kid who sat home alone, unattended, too much, or too young. This version of CEN is the easiest to see and remember because it’s concrete. You are likely to recall whether your parents were home or not.

CEN Effects: You learn to be very independent and perhaps, hyper-competent. You have learned not to need anyone, and asking for help or accepting it is a challenge.

2. Structure and Consequences

Did your parents enforce rules and responsibilities in your home? This may involve homework, household chores, mealtimes, and bedtimes. Did they give you rewards and consequences based on your behaviors and choices? If your household was too unstructured, too unpredictable, or too inattentive you may have been left to your own devices to figure things out on your own. But children’s brains are not prepared or able to effectively process this.

CEN Effects: Having received too little discipline from your parents, you now struggle to discipline yourself. It’s hard for you to organize yourself and make yourself do what you know you should do, and you may also have a hard time stopping yourself from doing things you shouldn’t do. Chances are high that you blame all of this on yourself, assuming that you are weak or defective in some way.

3. Observation and Feedback

Did your parents see you? Did they notice who you are and then share their observations with you? Children are not self-aware. They learn who they are by looking into their parents’ eyes and seeing themselves reflected there. Your preferences, abilities, weaknesses, challenges, talents, and needs are all important information for you to have about yourself. What happens if you are launched into adulthood without enough of it?

CEN Effects: Not knowing yourself well enough, you have difficulty making good choices for yourself. You may marry wrong, choose the wrong field or trade, or end up simply going with the flow instead of making choices for yourself. When people ask you what you want it may be hard for you to know. Unaware of what you’re good at, what you like or what you want makes it difficult for you to pursue it.

4. Quality of Love

What were the true depth and quality of your parents’ love for you? This one is difficult to write about because I know it may be painful for you to read about. The reality is that even though emotionally neglectful love can be real, honest, and earnestly delivered, it does not deliver the full package of parental love that every child needs. How can you feel fully and deeply loved by your parents if you don’t feel fully and deeply seen and known by them? Sadly, what seems like real quality love in the CEN family is, actually, not.

CEN Effects: You are set up to feel most comfortable when people don’t fully see or know you because it feels familiar and somehow right. You have internalized emotionally neglectful love as the gold standard for love because all children’s brains naturally do this with the type of love they receive from their parents. You may be attracted to other CEN people or tend to keep your friendships and relationships focused more on the other person. Deep down, you’re not sure you deserve to be loved the way you see other people loved.

5. Feelings

Did your parents respond enough to your feelings? Did they act like your emotions mattered? This form of Emotional Neglect envelopes all the others because emotions underly everything in your childhood home. A major parental responsibility is to emotionally validate and educate the child. Your parents need to teach you what you are feeling and why you are feeling it and that it’s OK to feel it. They are meant to help you navigate the world of emotions, both your own and others’ so that you will understand people and how to navigate relationships in every area of life.

CEN Effects: You grow up under-valuing and under-attending to your own feelings. You may even feel ashamed for having them. You may be blind to the world of emotions (as your parents likely were) and focus too much on facts or plans or concrete things. You may be deeply uncomfortable with intense feelings whether your own or another person’s and wall yourself off when you are challenged to deal with feelings. You may feel empty or numb at times and this may cause you to question whether you are somehow different or flawed. Since you’re unschooled in the world of feeling, you may find relationships with others somewhat confusing and perplexing.

What Now?

Whether you grew up with one or all of these forms of Emotional Neglect or somewhere in-between you can be sure that it has left its mark on you. But the imprint of CEN has a silver lining that’s meaningful and real and important for you to know about.

Childhood Emotional Neglect is not an illness or disease, nor is it a life sentence. All of its effects are rooted in the way you had to cope as a child. Think about it. If your parents acted consistently as if your left arm was a useless, unpleasant burden for the family you would, eventually, learn how to hide it. The same applies to your emotions.

So now, just as your arm is still there, so are your feelings. You can reclaim them now and you will see that the vital aspects of life that you have been denied thus far will be within your reach.

Coming between a child and his feelings should not be an easy thing to do, it’s true. The amazing thing is that rejoining that adult with their feelings is remarkably well possible and has a deep and lasting impact on the quality of your life. And there is a well-worn path to take you there.

Three Ways to Get Your Teen to Take Your Advice — Parenting ADHD & Autism

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Teenagers are notorious for throwing away their parents’ advice like yesterday’s news, but there are a few tactics you can use to work your lessons into their lives. We have three secrets that will make your teenagers actually listen to your advice.

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Create Powerful Decisions From Your Vague Intentions — Self Improvement 1 dot ga

What’s had the biggest impact on your life? Your parents, partner, career or education? Your health, social status or background? And what’s it been for the people around you? The people you work with, your friends, those you see in the media? What’s had the biggest influence in all their lives? It all comes down…

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Tips for Parenting an Introverted Child — Human Performance Psychology

Introverted children are often mistaken for shy children, but being introverted and being shy aren’t the same thing. Parents may see that their child doesn’t seem to socialize as many other children do. Their child may prefer to spend time alone reading or engaging in other individual activities rather than eagerly seeking out the companionship […]

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Is Epilepsy Inherited? — Epilepsy Talk

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Just because you have a parent, sibling, cousin or aunt who has epilepsy doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have it also. In fact, if you have a close relative with epilepsy, the chance of you having epilepsy is only about 2-5%, depending on the specific type of epilepsy. The risk in the general population is about 1-2%. On the other hand, there is a 92-98% chance for the close relative of someone with epilepsy to NOT have the same condition! So, even though the risk in families with epilepsy is higher than in the general population, most people with epilepsy do not have any relatives with seizures, and the great majority of parents with epilepsy do not have children with epilepsy. [. . .]

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What are the Signs to Identify Teen Drug Abuse — Self Life Hacks

There are few early and common warning signs of teen drug use, a few simple guidelines can go a long way toward spotting an issue earlier rather than later. The substance abuse among the young people is a much bigger problem than many parents realize. How big? One in 10 kids 12 to 17 years […]

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The Abusers in Mental Health—ACCREDITED SENIOR PSYCHOTHERAPIST/COUNSELLOR -Dr.Fawzy Masaoud-LONDON, ENGLAND

Unfortunately, there are still situations where children are physically, mentally and sexually abused by their parents, caregivers, family members, family friends, teachers etc. You can’t say “Who is an abuser?” Anyone could be an abuser. This is not to scaremonger, but you cannot recognise…

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Depression & Parenting Styles: Living With a Partner Who Parents Differently than You — Diffusing the Tension

What kind of parent are you? Do you wear your emotions on your sleeve— every little tantrum an epic battle, and every small joy an enormous victory? Are you more laidback, letting things roll off your back like water off a duck? [. . .]

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5 Parenting Quotes

1. Children are educated by what the grown-up is and not by his talk.

Carl Jung

2. At the end of the day, the most overwhelming key to a child’s success is the positive involvement of parents.

Jane D. Hull

3. There is no job more important than parenting. This I believe.

Ben Carson

4. At every step the child should be allowed to meet the real experience of life; the thorns should never be plucked from his roses.

Ellen Key

5. Loving a child doesn’t mean giving in to all his whims; to love him is to bring out the best in him, to teach him to love what is difficult.

Nadia Boulanger

How Cats Can Help Children With Autism Become More Social — Katzenworld

Numerous challenges exist for both autistic children and their parents, but new research has indicated that the interaction between autistic individual and cat has positive benefits for the child. This article investigates more about this relationship. Promising New Research A lot of people characterize […]

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mother taking away tablet from the child

Is Digital-Addiction a Real Menace to Children?

More and more children these days are battling digital addiction. They are being exposed to electronic devices at much younger ages, and we often watch them spending hours gazing at cell-phone/tablet or computer screens. According to experts, digital addiction is as potent as meth and can have alarming effects on children. It is extremely important to apply moderation, when it comes to screens or screen-time and we as parents must teach our children how to use them in a healthy way.

According to Dr Dimitri A. Christakis, Director, Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development, Seattle Children’s Research Institute and professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington, children use the devices along a continuum which ranges from healthy to compulsive to addictive. “I think the phenomenon of tech addiction is quite real,” he said.

In the commentary published in JAMA, Dr Christakis suggested that the relationship between media exposure and health in adolescents might turn out to follow an “inverted U” pattern. Thus, very high exposure and very low exposure might both be associated with poorer mental health outcomes than moderate amounts of usage.

However, though technology-use is as powerful as drugs, it is not analogous to drug use at all because these devices serve important purposes in our lives, including children’s. We as well as children need technology to do the day-to-day chores and stay connected but it is pertinent, given its adverse effects, to find healthy ways to use it adequately before its takes over.

Dr Ellen Selkie, an assistant professor of adolescent medicine at the University of Michigan, who does research on adolescents’ use of social media, said, “It’s like food, it’s something we all need because of the way businesses run, because of the job market—and for teens it’s the way they socialize.”

According to Dr Selkie, there is evidence that supports limitations on the absolute amount of screen time with younger children but the situation is more complicated, with older children. This is because, it is not that simple to make out whether a teen who is always on the phone, is there due to addiction or because that is where his friends are. It is normal for a teen to always want to be talking to his or her friends rather than the family.

However, just like other aspects of life that contribute to our overall well-being, it requires daily decisions on the user’s part to keep his or her technology-usage within healthy limits. Saying that one should altogether bring it down to zero is neither sensible nor acceptable given the benefits technology provides; however, we can certainly curb before we become its slaves instead of masters.

Dr Jenny Radesky, an assistant professor of developmental behavioral pediatrics at the University of Michigan and an expert on technology use by children, equates technology to “an environment.” It is a place where all sorts of activities take place, from work to entertainment to social life. However, she cautions that it is a deliberately designed and engineered environment, with an ultimate goal of making money. “Modern technologies is purposefully habit-forming and programmed with the sort of variable rewards that keep humans engaged.” she adds. It is important to not fall prey to it because it can potentially impact our healthiness in a negative way.

Dr Radesky also emphasizes that rather than the concerned individual, or the so-called addict, the problem lies with the digital environment which is shaping the individual’s behavior, often through methods that are intentionally exploitative or subconscious.

Therefore, it is essential for children to understand the way technology works for or against them. Parents can play a significant role in imparting and demystifying information and making their children more digitally literate.

While researchers often talk about the difficulty they experience in trying to understand and quantify children’s use of devices, Dr Christakis in his commentary, points out how while the required information is routinely—and efficiently—gathered by the industry and applied to increase the charm of the devices and the programs, people in academia and research are struggling to get the data needed to put together coherent and extensive guidelines for parents and policymakers. Dr Christakis, thus, suggests that an increased cooperation between industry and researchers might help in setting up those guidelines.

According to Dr Selkie, there are ways for tech companies and even game designers to be more thoughtful about children and to discourage problematic internet use.

In the meanwhile, parents should do their part and start with asking their children to put down their cell-phones while dinner or on family outings and gradually proceed to setting limits on per day screen-time. Parents themselves should also be mindful of their own use of devices and set good examples for their children.

Also read:
8 Ways to Prevent and Address Your Child’s Addiction to Smart Devices
The 4 Personal Traits That Make It Hard to Take Criticism
Study Explains Why People Lie
Why Children Lie and What Parents Can Do to Prevent It

The 4 Personal Traits That Make It Hard to Take Criticism

Scott

“Scott, I feel uncomfortable at parties sometimes when you tell a story real loud. I know you’re not doing it on purpose, but it embarrasses me. Can you try not to talk so loud?” Andrea said to her husband.

Immediately, Scott’s face turned red. He felt a combination of shock, rage and hurt. “I-I-I-,” he stuttered. Then he ran down the steps to the basement, slamming the door behind him. Downstairs, he turned his music up as loudly as he could and started lifting weights furiously.

Rebecca

“So now that I’ve explained all the great strengths you bring to the job, Rebecca, there is one thing I’d like you to try to improve over the next year,” her supervisor said as they discussed Rebecca’s 6-month job evaluation. “I want you to work on giving your direct reports more clear feedback about their performance.”

As her supervisor explained that she wasn’t challenging her employees enough, Rebecca’s field of vision literally went blank. Her thoughts were swirling so quickly in her head that she barely heard anything else her boss said. “How can she say that?! I just gave someone feedback yesterday. She doesn’t know what she’s talking about. I’m going to start looking for a new job.”

Do you identify with Scott or Rebecca? Is it especially difficult for you to hear negative comments about yourself, your actions or your performance, even from people who you know deep down have your best interests in mind?

4 Personal Traits That Make it Hard to Accept and Respond Well to Criticism

  1. Lack of self-knowledge. How well do you know yourself? Do you know your own strengths and weaknesses, talents and challenges, preferences and tendencies? What do you want? What do you like? And why? Not knowing yourself deeply and well leaves you overly vulnerable to other people’s opinions. It also leaves you with little to call upon when you need it. If you knew yourself well enough, when your wife gives you a specific critique, it’s OK. Because you know you have plenty of other strengths that make you good enough as a person even if you make a mistake. If Scott had enough self-knowledge he would feel somewhat hurt by Andrea’s comment, but he would be able to think it through and realize that people generally like him, that he has natural good humor, and that Andrea’s discomfort is more about herself than him. He would say, “Oh, OK Andrea. I’ll try to be aware.”
  2. Low compassion for yourself. Everybody makes mistakes, no exceptions. It is what we do with those mistakes that matters. When you have compassion for yourself, there’s a voice in your head that helps you think through criticism, take responsibility for your mistake while at the same time having compassion for your humanness. I call it the Voice of Compassionate Accountability. It steps in when you receive criticism and talks you through it. If Rebecca had the Voice of Compassionate Accountability, instead of thinking about a new job, she would have been thinking: “OK, so she thinks I’m not giving negative feedback to my people. I do know I’ve always struggled to say difficult things. Even though I’ve been trying, maybe I need to try even more. My overall communication skills are good. I can rely on those to help me. This will be a work in progress.”
  3. Difficulty managing your feelings. Scott and Rebecca both have this challenge in common. They are each when receiving criticism, flooded by emotions that render them helpless at the moment. Both feel a combination of shame and anger immediately upon hearing the criticism, and neither knows what to do with it. Neither has the skills to notice what they are feeling, name those feelings or manage them so that they can have a conversation.
  4. Lack of assertiveness. Assertiveness is a skill. It is the ability to speak your truth in a way that the other person can hear it. To be assertive you must first know what you feel and manage those feelings, as described in #3. When you’re aware of your anger you can listen to its message. It may be telling you to speak up and protect yourself, and it is vital that you listen. If Scott had assertiveness skills, he might say to Andrea, “Everyone was loud at the party, and I didn’t think I was any louder than anyone else.” Andrea would respond by speaking her truth. They would have a back-and-forth conversation, and this might enable them to learn about each other, listen to each other, and perhaps forge some kind of mutual understanding.

The Role of Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN)

These four character traits are all hallmarks of one common childhood experience. In fact, they are essentially the footprint of Childhood Emotional Neglect or CEN.

Growing up in a family that does not address the feelings of its members (the definition of CEN) leaves the children to move into, and through, adulthood lacking some vital skills.

How can you learn who you are when the deepest expression of that, your feelings, are ignored by your parents as they raise you?

How can you have empathy for yourself when your parents were unable to show you compassion and empathy while they raised you?

How can you learn how to manage your emotions when your emotions were ignored in your childhood home?

How can you know how to speak your truth when, as a child, your truth was not accepted by your parents?

How to React Well to Criticism

Before you start to think it is too late for you, I want to assure you that it is absolutely not.

You can begin to work on thinking of criticism in a new way: like someone’s opinion, which may or may not be true, and may or may not be useful to you. You can realize that criticism is often a useful and valuable way to become a stronger and better person.

You can start to pay more attention to the best source of strength, purpose, connection, validation and direction available to you, your feelings.

To learn much more about Childhood Emotional Neglect, how it happens, and the struggles it leaves you with throughout your adulthood, see the book Running On Empty: Overcome Your Childhood Emotional Neglect, available in bookstores and online everywhere.

Most people who grew up with CEN have no idea that it happened. To find out if you grew up with CEN, visit EmotionalNeglect.com and take The Emotional Neglect Test. It’s free.

 

Source link: https://blogs.psychcentral.com/childhood-neglect/2019/08/the-4-personal-traits-that-make-it-hard-to-take-criticism/

a boy with pinocchio toy

Why Children Lie and What Parents Can Do to Prevent It

Although morally incorrect, but lying is pretty common among growing kids. In fact, children start lying as early as at the age of three and it is fairly normal. After all, lying is common among adults too. Lying could rather be a sign of healthy brain development, as lying involves cognitive ability to imagine a scenario and consequences. In the early years, child’s lies are easy to catch but as children grow, they become better at lying. However, as a parent it is your duty to develop moral values in your child. Honesty is one such value, but when your child starts lying, you become worried whether you have failed to inculcate positive values in him or her or if your child will grow up to become an expert liar. Don’t worry! The situation is not that grim, and you can easily help your child leave the habit of lying. But before that you need to understand why your child lies. Lying, just like any other behavior, is learned and goal-driven. If you can find the reason why your child lies, you can easily handle the situation. As mentioned above, lying is quite normal and common, but if you don’t address the issue on time, it will surely become a severe behavioral problem.

There could be many reasons why a child lies. Depending on the age of the child, some of the common reasons why a child might be lying are discussed below. Although the list of causes is not exhaustive, it certainly provides a broad background and may be used as a guide for dealing with a child’s habit of lying:

Very small children can lie as a consequence of their developing cognitive skills, and lying is a new skill that they try. Such lies can be translated as wishful thinking, making imaginary friend, or making up stories. These are fundamentally the result of child’s newly acquired mental skills and observation of others. When you read your child bedtime stories, you are helping your child expand his or her cognitive abilities like imagination, thinking, etc. So when your 3-4 year old child tells you about his or her imaginary friend, it is not actually lying. Rather, your child is applying his or her newly acquired mental abilities.

Children start lying as a result of observing their adults lying. Remember! A growing child is like a sponge, he/she absorbs what he/she gets to see. Just like other behaviors, lying is also learned by observing others. Therefore, the responsibility to provide them with a positive role model lies on you too.

As mentioned earlier, lying is also goal-driven. So, in order to find out the reason behind your child’s lying, you need to identify, what your child is trying to achieve from lying. In most cases, children often lie in an attempt to avoid aversive consequences.

Many parents complain that that they have used all sorts of measures to control lying and that they have never encouraged lying, but all in vain. However, what they fail to recognize is how they react or what sort of response they give out when their child tells them an unpleasant truth. Your reaction determines to a great extent your child’s behavior in terms of lying. That is why it is often told that parents should never overreact when their child shares something with them, no matter how outrageous or against the value system of their family that issue is.

Opposite of the above is when a child tells a lie to get something he/she desires. This happens, when parents adopt only a reward-based system for the child. So if you are also among those parents, it is important to acknowledge simultaneously the power of internal motivation as well.

In some instances, children, especially teenagers, lie in order to avoid attention. This is the reason why most teenagers with depression or anxiety go unidentified. In an attempt to avoid being overwhelmed by attention of their parents, they often hide their emotional turmoil by lying about it.

Many children lie in order to compensate for their shortcomings and sometimes. Often, the ones who lack self-confidence or want to impress others exaggerate stuff. This type of lying is manifested in bragging. They may tell their friends about how big their house is or how many cars they have in order to impress them.

Last but not the least, children may lie to avoid hurting others’ feelings or to make others happy. They fear that their truth will hurt the feelings of others and so they lie. This type of lying is fairly common among adults as well. We often refrain from giving honest feedback to our friends and loved ones because we fear that it will hurt their feelings and that is the reason we sometimes give fake positive feedback instead.

Now that we have covered the basic reasons behind lying, it’s time to focus on how to deal with your child’s lying. Here are a few techniques that can help you encourage honesty in your children and prevent them from lying:

1. Set an example: You are your child’s first role model, and children learn by observing. If they see you lying on occasions and to others, they will definitely catch the habit of lying. Moreover, if you also lie, you will not be able to object to your child’s lies. So make it a point to never lie in front of your child. And if a situation comes where you have to lie, don’t forget to explain the reason why you lied. Alternatively, you can even admit to committing the mistake and be sorry for it. By doing this you will make your child understand that mistakes happen, and that they do not stop us from improving ourselves. After all, we are all humans, and to err is human.

2. Consider the age: Take in to consideration the age of your child. Children below four often engage in making up stories, which cannot be considered as lies. They are part of growing up. In such instances, encourage your child’s imagination without encouraging the lying.

3. Start early: Lying or its opposite, i.e., telling the truth, are all part of a child’s growing up. Virtues like honesty should be inculcated in your child, as early as possible. Make some rules for your family, where lying is discouraged and honesty is encouraged. With small kids, this can be accomplished through story telling. And with middle-school kids, this can be encouraged by finding teachable situations where these values and their importance as a part of the value system are discussed. If you succeed in creating an atmosphere where honesty is valued, chances are that your teenage kids will automatically make honesty a part of their own value system.

4. Talk: When you catch your child lying, instead of losing your calm and overreacting, have a peaceful talk with your child. Tell him or her how lying affects relationships; how it makes others feel. Tell the child how lying can lead to loss of trust and how honesty on the other hand, helps build relationships that have trust and faith.

5. Never label: As a thumb rule, never label your child as a ‘liar.’ Labeling makes the person unwilling to change as it leaves no room for improvement. Always target the behavior and never the person. Once you label your child as a liar, your child will no longer be enthusiastic about changing his or her behavior.

6. Encourage honesty: Very often, in an attempt to change or modify a behavior, we forget to encourage the desired behavior. Try focusing on situations where your child is being honest or telling the truth. Praise the honesty effusively. This will automatically lead to repetition of the desired behavior, i.e., honesty.

7. Consequence: If you find that your child is lying, you need to decide the consequences of lying as house rules. Rather than using punishment like reprimand or physical punishment as a means of discouraging lying, take away the privileges (e.g., limit screen time, etc.). You can also use restitution where the child is given a second chance to mend his or her mistake. These rules and consequences should be made clear to the child and should be established early on. At the same time, you can use rewards like star or point system to encourage honesty. This is especially effective if the child is small; gradually shift on praise as reward.

8. Be a safe haven: You as a parent need to convey to your child that he or she can trust you; that the child is unconditionally loved, no matter what. Building a relationship of love and trust requires patience and being open to forgiveness. If your child comes to you and honestly shares something that is shocking to you and if you overreact by shouting or lecturing, then chances are that your child will start lying or will avoid being honest with you in future. Listen calmly and then find appropriate situation to share your opposing views. This will not only encourage better communication between you and your child but will also encourage honesty and acceptance. So make sure to never overreact when your child tells you the truth.

9. Find the cause: And lastly, whenever your child lies or you find out that your child has been lying with friends or teachers, try to look for the reason behind. Chances are that finding the cause will help your find the solution as well.

teenagers smoking

10 Techniques to Help Your Child Resist Peer Pressure

As our kids grow, they experience an urge to fit in with their friends or peer. This desire to gel with the kids of their own age group, called peers is quite common among growing children. As they grow, they become more concerned about what others think of them, especially kids of their own age group. And in an attempt to seek approval from others, they engage in life-threatening activities like overspeeding or rash-driving or fall victims to risky behaviors like smoking, drug abuse, cheating, theft, etc. This feeling that one must do the same things as other kids of one’s age do, in order to be liked or be a part of their group is called peer pressure.

However, peer pressure is not always negative, it can be positive as well. A positive peer pressure is when the child is influenced to perform better at studies, or take part in activities like sports, or join drama club at school because all his or her friends are  doing so. When peer pressure is positive parents don’t have to worry. However if you suspect that your child is falling prey to negative peer pressure, you must not take it lightly and rather address it properly. As a parent your job is to help your child learn techniques to deal with peer pressure. Here are some of the techniques that you can use to help your child resist peer pressure:

1. Make your child understand what negative peer pressure is: Often children are unaware of the concept of peer pressure and how detrimental it can be to their overall wellbeing. Knowing how peer pressure works can help your child identify and defy it. Sometimes your child’s friends might be using the method of emotional blackmail to make him or her conform. Knowledge about peer pressure will help your child identify such situations and act rightly. For instance, when your child’s friends force him or her to go to a night party if he/she wants to remain part of the group, he/she will be better equipped to make the decision.

2. Lead by example: Like kids, adults too sometimes fall prey to peer pressure. When adults feel obliged to go on a vacation or buy some fancy dress just to maintain their status, that’s peer pressure. Kids observe their parents and follow what they see them doing. You are your child’s first teacher, and also his or her role model. Your child learns a lot from watching how you act. If the child sees you dealing with the peer pressure in a healthy and rational way, he/she would learn doing so. Set a good example for your children and let them learn from you how to resist peer pressure.

3. Know your child’s friends: It is important to know about your child’s friends to find out whether they are a bad influence or a good influence. Invite them over, interact with them, and try to understand their value system. Help your child understand about the qualities of good friends. Help your child understand that a friend who puts conditions cannot be a good friend.

4. Spend quality time with your child: As children grow, especially during adolescence, they start spending more time with their friends and less with their family. We as a parent, also sometimes become so busy with our daily responsibilities that we don’t find time to interact with our children; also sometimes we think that they don’t need that much care and attention, which is a misconception. As children enter adolescence, life challenges become more serious and the children often feel confused about how to deal with such challenges. Most children start smoking or try drugs or alcohol during adolescence in an attempt to become popular or look cool in front of their peers. Therefore, it becomes even more critical that you, as a parent, are there for your child. Make a schedule to spend some time with your child on a daily basis—may be a dinner together or going for a walk with your child, etc.

5. Communication: Keep communication channels open with your child. Let them know that they can come to you whenever they feel like and talk about anything with you. Have regular conversations with your child as you both spend some quality time together. Find teachable moments in your day-to-day conversations. Be a good listener, and hold yourself from overreacting if they share something alarming. Your reaction will determine the probability of whether they will share their secrets or problems with you in future.

6. Teach decision-making skills: Decision making is a skill that can be easily learned. Help your child learn this skill by giving situations where he or she needs to choose one option out of two or more. Teach your child the concept of pros and cons and how to weigh each option on pros and cons. You can give imaginary situations which involve decision-making and encourage your child to think through each option with possible future consequences. You can even use role-play to help your child better understand the situation and decision making involved.

7. Prepare response: It is often better to prepare some responses for a possible situation where the child might face peer pressure in advance so that these responses come handy. This is important in cases where the child is young and has not yet mastered the skill of resisting peer pressure. Sentences like, “Maybe some other time,” “Sorry, I have some work at home,” “Sorry, but I am not feeling well today, next time” can help your child instantly resist peer pressure. Make your child practice these sentences in role-play, like when someone asks him to drive, go for a night out, or to try smoking. Also teach assertiveness techniques to your child and how to say NO in such situations. Assertiveness requires practice; therefore, create role-plays to help your child master assertiveness.

8. Boost your child’s self-esteem: Children who are confident and have high and positive self-esteem are less likely to succumb to peer pressure because they don’t rely on others for acceptance. Build your child’s self-esteem by pointing out their strengths and by praising your child’s positive behaviors. Give them opportunity to voice their opinions and also value their opinions even if they sound incorrect or unrealistic. By respecting their views and opinion you will help them become more confident.

9. Hobbies: Encourage your child to take part in hobbies or activities other than studies. This will not only help your child gain positive self-esteem, but will also bring your child in contact with like-minded friends or better role models among peers.

Set healthy rules: Rules are very important provided they are healthy and not unreasonable. Rules not only help your child feel safe, they also give you, as a parent, a ready model of resisting pressure. When your child sees you refusing to give in to his or her unreasonable demands they also learn how to assert oneself under peer pressure and say no. Rules also provide order to the situations that are challenging. Setting limits for screen time, staying out at night, or going out for a party with friends are good examples of healthy rules.