Being a parent in today's world is not easy. Parents often have too much to do and children often have
unique challenges that require parents' time. There are no easy answers in parenting children through
difficult situations. There are some guidelines that can help make things a little easier.
1. Keep communication open. Effective communication is very important for children ages 10 and
older. Many parents want to communicate with their children, but sometimes lack the skills to do so
effectively. Some encourage their children to talk to them, but when they do parents end up punishing
their children or scolding them. Subsequently, communication becomes restricted or shut down. Below
are some basic guidelines on keeping parent-child communication at a maximum.
A. Take time to talk. Sometimes you may have to schedule it in. Monthly interviews with each
child is a good tool for open communication.
B. Be prepared to talk about whatever. The conversation may include sensitive topics.
C. No matter what, stay calm during the conversation. If you get angry, you may need to put
the communication to an end and then resume the conversation when you have cooled
D. Repeat back to the child what you have heard the child say. Do not introject your own
opinions. This proves to the child that you are listening and allows the child to feel
comfortable about talking to you.
E. Do not get side tracked by the child's lack of respect or swearing. Disciplining can come
later, now is the time to really listen.
F. Always have an attitude of unconditional love for your child. This will help you through the
rough parts of the conversation.
G. When negotiating is part of the conversation, always look for a "win-win strategy". Your
child should be able to get what he/she wants without sacrificing your concern for safety and
well being. Let the child propose solutions that will bring peace of mind to both parties.
H. Don't worry if you can not come up with an agreement in the first period of conversation.
Feel free to schedule another time to talk more. Often time helps resolve some seemingly
Keep looking for opportunities to talk about sensitive topics with your child. The more
effective your communication, the easier it will be to deal with difficult situations.
2. Knowledge is power. It is wise to invest in good parenting books to increase effective parenting
skills. Parenting is a learned behavior and parents generally improve with time and experience. Many
authors have written excellent books to help sharpen parenting skills. Below are a few books that we
It is important to teach children how to think clearly. Mind Coach: How to Teach Children & Teenagers to Think Positive & Feel Good by Daniel Amen, MD does just that. It will help your children think logically and avoid many of the common thinking problems that children have. We recommend that you review this book often with your children. It will teach them to think more positively and confront their negative thoughts.
There does not exist one parenting book that will cover every difficult situation. A book that comes close
to this specification is a classic parenting book written in 1965 and the book remains valid today. It is
entitled Children: the Challenge by Rudolf Dreikurs and Vicki Soltz (ISBN: 0-425-26655-6).
3. Teach coping skills. Life is full of challenges and it is coping skills that help us get through these
challenges. Families can learn coping skills together. Children with good coping skills handle difficulties
better. Coping skills include learning how to have peace of mind, forgiving others, prayer, relaxation,
imagery and problem solving skills. An excellent book for teaching the whole family how to obtain a
peaceful mind is, Love is Letting Go of Fear by Gerald Jampowsky (ISBN: 0-89087-246-5).
4. Keep a "success journal". When things get difficult, we often forget what has worked in the past.
We have a tendency to repeat mistakes we made the last time. A success journal is a diary of techniques
that worked with your child in the past. When you find that something has been helpful in getting
through a difficult situation, write it down in a journal. When you learn new techniques from a book,
write it down in the journal. If it works, let the journal know that it did.
Do not put negative events or things in your success journal. Limit your entries to things that work or
should work for your child. The next time a difficult situation arises, do not do anything too quickly.
Consult the success journal and choose an appropriate response.
If you follow these three guidelines consistently, you may be surprised at just how much better your life
and your child's life is going. Some children are easy to raise. Others are difficult. Fortunately, there
are tools to use that will make the difficult situation a little easier.