Sooner or later, your child will begin to have problems that they really don’t know how to deal with. Most of the time, you can see this dilemma within pre-teens and teenagers.
They become tight lipped and refuse to speak of the issue that is causing them grief. It can be a difficult transition through puberty, and not just in the physical aspect either. The child’s mental state is maturing and this could be very confusing in a lot of ways.
While parenting classes can help you attenuate your senses on discovering the problems your child may face, it is much different to actually live through the process. When trying to pierce that bubble they’ve created around themselves, you need to be mindful of their perceptions of the world. Keep in mind that while you may think the problem isn’t Earth-shattering, the child may view it otherwise. They don’t have the experience in life you do and shouldn’t be dismissed as such.
1. Discipline – Never approach a distraught child with threats of discipline in order to get them to talk. It could begin to drive a wedge between the two of you that may be difficult to remove. The child needs to trust you, and you need to reciprocate that trust in order to form a communicative relationship. Disciplining your child for nothing more than keeping their problems to themselves doesn’t help getting them to open up to you. Most of the time, they will accept the punishment and let the problem fester.
2. Life Experience – If you are lucky enough to obtain some kind of information as to what the problem is, you can help your child relax by recanting a similar situation in your own life and how it was dealt with. Even if you have to ask your child’s friends as to his or her problems as of late, it can go a long way to helping you understand the child and provide you with a few tools to help him or her.
3. Bribery – Although bribery may have worked when the child was five or six years old, the same tactic may not be viable for the pre-teen or teenager with a chip on his or her shoulder. They may dismiss the bribery as quickly as they dismissed the threat of discipline. He or she doesn’t want to be bought or punished, but they do want to an answer to their problems.
4. One-on-One – For the pre-teen and the teenager, problems don’t need to be aired out among other family members. For a child that clearly has a problem, it is best to take them aside and spend quality one-on-one time trying to get to the heart of the matter. Some children will feel comfortable in any location other than the home where a sibling or other family member can become involved in the situation. Hanging out at the park with a couple of Coca-Colas could be a more ideal location for talking one-on-one.
5. Diversionary Tactics – The first thing you need to do is make the child feel comfortable and less tense about the situation. Involving yourself in their favorite activity could help reduce some of that tension. If the child is a “gamer,” have them teach you how to play their favorite game. If they love to go bowling, play a few frames. The goal is to relax the child – for a relaxed child is more apt to opening up about the problem they are facing.
What may work for one child may be futile to another. It can be a process of trial and error when trying to help your child open up to you. Teenagers and pre-teens can be incredibly strong willed and could be incredibly embarrassed or deeply affected by the circumstances they are facing. Don’t simply judge a tight-lipped child as nothing more than being “silly.” To them, it may be a dire situation.
Special contributor: Rachel Thomas
Author Bio: Rachel is an ex-babysitting pro as well as a professional writer and blogger. She is a graduate from Iowa State University and currently writes for www.babysitting.net.