Here’s the short answer: Nothing.
No child comes with a manual and every child has different needs. By asking yourself the question of if you’ve “broken” your child, you are actually setting yourself up for parenting success, NOT failure.
Parents bring their children to therapy because they know that their children aren’t happy and the resources and knowledge that they have aren’t enough to help their child succeed. I want you to know that you have not failed as a parent as long as you keep trying to improve your skills, recognize when you need more help, and don’t give up on yourself or your child.
Parenting is the hardest job there is.
I’ve seen a lot of parents that put unnecessary pressure on themselves trying to solve every problem in their child’s life and provide for them in a way that they felt they were lacking in their childhood. Look, there are a lot a things we can do to support our kids, but at the end of the day, we don’t have control over their reactions or experiences of the world anymore than we do the stranger we pass in the street.
Your job as a parent is to provide access to the resources nessesary to support our children. That can mean advocating for testing and services in school, attending parent/teacher conferences, and reading up on the latest parenting techniques.
I’m going to say something that may sound a little controversial, but … your job is not to change your child’s behavior, thoughts, or feelings. They have to make the choice to change.
Yeah I know, it’s hard to see your child in pain and you want to rescue them from that pain. As a therapist I deal with this, hour after hour, day after day, with tons of kids. It’s never easy to see any child in pain. My focus is always to set them up for success by teaching them tools that they can use to alleviate this pain, but after that, they have to make the decision to actively use those tools to make a change.
It’s how therapy works, it’s how parenting works, it’s how any human interaction dealing with change works.
As a parent, I know it feels like everyone is looking at you and judging your success at parenting by your child’s behavior and level of success, but we need to be kinder to each other and ourselves.
Your child is who they are. We can guide them and supply them, but there is no foolproof parenting method that creates the perfect child.
We have to focus on what we can control, which is our reaction to our children and the people who would judge us.
If you’re looking for more support in better understanding your child and how to strengthen you’re parenting practices to meet them where they are at, please consider a Psychological Assessment as a collaborative approach to better understanding your relationship with your child. Contact Calm Down Kids for more information.
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