By Debra K. Waranch, LCSW-C
(Repost, August 2016)
As parents, there’s no limit to the amount of worrying we put ourselves through. As the school year begins and students transition back into the classroom, parents express concern for their children on all different levels.
- Generally: Will my child do well this year?
- Academically: Will my child get good grades?
- Behaviorally: Will my child listen?
- Socially: Will my child have friends?
- Emotionally: Will my child be happy?
As you assess these questions for your child, you will be able to provide a guide toward balance. If the answers are troubling, reach out to professionals for help. Here are some guidelines for communicating your concerns.
- Don’t Diagnose or use words associated with a diagnosis, i.e. “My child is ‘Bi-Polar.” or “She is so ‘OCD’.”
Parents need to be especially mindful in speaking about their children. You could unknowingly be putting your child in a box, and perhaps it’s the wrong box. Once that happens, the child cannot grow or be balanced, and he will not be getting the right treatment. Then the situation can snowball. Understandably, frustration will rise from teachers and parents, and this will trickle down to the child. The child may feel she is “bad,” “wrong,” or “disliked”. Many times the child will act out in the way they are labelled, because they’ve gotten the message, “This is you.” It becomes somewhat of a self-fulfilling prophecy.
- State your concern clearly and simply.
- Describe your child’s behavior in terms of what you see and hear. Explain how the behavior affects your child’s day to day life.
- Discuss how the behavior affects classroom time, family time and social time.
- State what your goal is for the child, i.e. “I want my daughter to follow directions in the classroom.”
As you think about your children, either in your role as parent, grandparent, or classroom teacher, consider what helps them be balanced, grow, and produce. Ask yourself, “Does she need more sleep, need to improve her eating?” “Does your home need more structure?” “Is he involved in too many activities?” “Is there enough down time in her schedule?”
Trust that you are your child’s best advocate. Believe in yourself as a parent. No one knows your child better than you.
If your child obtains an accurate diagnosis from a licensed clinician, remember that child is more than that diagnosis. A child is not one dimensional, but rather multi- dimensional.
He or she is a reader, soccer player, actor, deep thinker.
It’s important for everyone to work together to best meet each child’s needs. Just as a plant needs the right soil, water, sunlight, and care, so do all of our children— they are our future.
By Debra K. Waranch, LCSW-C
Because parenting doesn’t come with an instruction manual, JCS offers a variety of programs, services, education and support for parents and families with children of all ages. Click here or call 410-466-9200 to learn more.