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QUESTION 1: My 9-year old daughter gets very angry when she does not get to watch TV. She throws things and screams and I don’t know how to handle her because she does not listen to me.
RESPONSE: Anger is a natural emotion. It is always triggered by something and has many underlying causes. But if not controlled, it can spiral out control. People usually ask me about ways on how to control anger, but they seldom ask me on ways to prevent it. As we age, we gradually know what makes us tick and can somehow manage anger. But for children, especially your daughter’s age, they are not mature enough to understand emotions, let alone the overwhelming feeling of anger.
So how does a parent deal with such situations? Firstly, you need to understand the underlying cause; it’s usually more than just the TV watching.
TV watching for most children these days is a habit, a coping mechanism of sorts which they turn to when they are bored and do not have anything else to do, because they are not shown or taught other ways to productively pass time.
TV watching has taken over the lives of children so much so that once a child is bored or starts crying the television has become the boo- boo fixer, while parents are preoccupied with their phone,social media or other things. Excessive TV can ruin your child! They can develop poor social skills; become violent, obese, poor focus etc.
You can engage children in so many ways. Children are always up for anything fun, hence we have to think out of the box and think of ways that will keep them engaged. Giving them age-appropriate chores while making it fun or playing games that will hone or exercise their motor skills.
TV watching is like a habit, hence one need to break it. But break it gently by thinking and planning before hand. Reach out to her when she is not preoccupied and have a heart to heart talk. But please remember not to corner her. Plan a routine with her where is she gets to watch TV, but only at a specific time and duration. Fill her day with other fun stuff to do and balance it out with her academics. Expose her to the outdoors and engage play with her peers more.Please make sure you give her undivided attention even if just for 15-30 minutes in a day. Play with her. And do not forget to reward or acknowledge her for her good behaviour. Motivation and a positive self esteem works wonders.
And in case the outbursts happen, please do not say or do things that will aggravate the anger, try to remain calm, patient and talk to her when she has cooled down. But in your case prevention is always better than the cure hence try to work on it accordingly.
QUESTION 2: I broke up with my guy just last month…Now I heard he is going around with someone new. I am very hurt and don’t know what to do.
RESPONSE: Getting over a break up is not easy. And yes, it does seem like the world has come to an end. I do not know the reason for your break up, but I do know that time will heal you,because you are strong! I always believe that things happen for a reason and that with each life changing experience, we learn valuable lessons, lessons which we will carry with us for life. You have a whole life ahead of you. If your ex has moved on, I think its time you do too!
Waiting and wandering will only eat away at your time and energy. You may be hoping against hope. Time is precious and waits for no one. You could be doing so many wonderful things. So what is holding you back? Use this time to pursue your life goals and move forward.
Here are a few things that will help you:
- Learn to cope by distracting yourself whenever your mind starts to wander or you start thinking about the other person. Do the things you love. Surround yourself with positive people. However, do try to avoid listening to songs or watch anything that will remind you of ‘him’. Instead, watch or read material which has funny or positive content.
- Make a list of your priorities and goals for the next one year. This will help give you direction and help you move forward in life. It will give you a sense of empowerment and independence.
- Try not to isolate yourself. Go out, have fun! Meet new people. Live your life for YOU!
- Please don’t put yourself through unnecessary tension and worry because you have an exciting life ahead of you,with lots of opportunities.
- Don’t let the break-up dampen your spirits and self-esteem. Think positive. Keep saying to yourself that you will get through this, because you deserve better!
- Look after yourself. Stay healthy,physically and mentally! Good luck!
QUESTION 3: My son is constantly lying to me. He is 13. I can’t trust him these days. Why does he do it?? How can I stop it? He was never like this.
RESPONSE: As children get older and change, so do the issues they face. In my experience counselling parents and children with a similar problem, I have noticed the following:
- There is always a reason and a pattern when it comes to children who lie
- Are they really lies or are they deliberately hiding the truth?
- Are they afraid to tell the truth?
- Do they have trust issues and hence are not being truthful?
- Are they lying to get out of trouble?
So why does a child lie? Reasons are plenty. In your case I can only ASSUME that the lie is related to a parents past reaction to a similar situation which lead to the child being punished(without closure). It could have been the way a parent reacted to the ‘actual’ truth that their child told in the past,and she was punished for it. By blaming or cornering their children, parents are pushing them away, the child will start distancing himself/herself from you and the lies will only get worse. Therefore, they choose to lie deliberately to avoid being punished. Once children realise they can trust you, they will start opening up. Teach them the values and importance of being honest and what a healthy relationship comprises of. Also, tell them how their lying hurts and upsets you. If he is not ready or willing to tell you the truth just yet, give him space. Tell him that when he is ready , he can come to you anytime and that he need not be afraid. Reward and appreciate his honesty at all times.
Your son is 13 and he is going through the adolescent stage. This will make him all the more sensitive. At this stage a parent needs to be the Guide/Coach, rather than someone who he sees as his enemy.
Try to work together with him, rather than against him. Please reach out to him when the time is right. Spend quality time to him and LISTEN.
Constant lying is dangerous! Especially when it comes to children and teens. Reason being, that if something serious occurs, for example abuse, bullying, depression, suicidal thoughts etc. , the child or teen in question will avoid telling the truth to their parents because they are afraid, and this in turn will spiral into something much worse.
As parents we need to start a dialog (open the channels of communication) with the kids, so that they can be open and honest about anything without feeling scared or hesitant. They should be able and willing to tell you anything. Therefore, listen attentively with an open mind. Parents should be ‘approachable’ and non-threatening. If your child wants to talk to you while you are busy, don’t choo him away abruptly. Your body language(avoid crossing arms, avoid hands on hips), eye contact, listening skills, etc., all matter. Please remember to be patient. Children pick up on verbal and non-verbal cues very fast.
If we want our children to change for the better, we need to start over, make a few adjustments ourselves. No parent is perfect. The first thing to do is to assess our own thoughts and behaviour (especially with regards to the situation at hand) and work on it with consistency in order to build foundations of a healthy relationship; trust and honesty.