Little things are important to little ones

Monday, August 10, 2015

Parents preparing to send little ones off to school warn their children about the big dangers: traffic, drugs, alcohol and evil strangers. Parents struggle with how to make the children alert for dangers without making them terrified of facing the world beyond their homes.

While these are valid worries, it is important to remember that children have other worries: "Will I be able to do what I'm supposed to do? Will the teacher think I'm stupid? Will the other kids think I'm stupid, or ugly or a nerd? Will I be yelled at or made fun of? Will anybody like me?"

All children feel insecure at times and need reassurance. Without this reassurance, insecurities can grow. It is easy for an adult to dismiss childish concerns by saying the child needs to learn how to deal with his or her own problems, but everybody, young and old, needs to know that somebody cares.

A young child should be encouraged to discuss his or her day, every day, with a parent, the good things, the bad things, what is amusing, what is confusing. A parent shouldn't feel compelled to come up with a solution to every problem a child has. After all, children really do need to work out their own small problems. What the child usually wants is not advice, but someone to simply listen and to care.

If a child is not comfortable discussing the small embarrassments of minor failures and rejections, the child is less likely to open up about the scary and humiliating results of peer coercion or adult abuse. If communication is not established in early childhood, there is little hope that there will be communication during the potentially rebellious adolescent years.