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No one expects parenting to be easy, but what many of us don’t expect is just how many challenges will come our way as kids grow. Our job as parents is to find the best ways to help kids navigate these challenges. This list is by no means exhaustive, but these are some of the top issues kids and their parents go through together. We know some of these problems will sound familiar, which is why we also have positive solutions to help steer your child in the right direction.
Dealing with challenging behavior starts as soon as toddlerhood, when little ones begin testing limits. But what’s cute from toddlers, like dropping their sippy cup on purpose to see what happens, can turn into more serious issues later on. One of the most difficult issues is having a teenager go through a rebellious phase. The first thing for parents to recognize is that a certain degree of rebellion is a normal part of growing up. Just as a toddler drops something to experiment with cause and effect, teens are figuring out their world, and testing limits is part of the quest to find their place in it.
As Psychology Today explains, teenage rebellion is also influenced by your parenting style, with many parents tending towards an overly authoritarian or overly relaxed approach to discipline. The ideal solution is to find that sweet spot that’s somewhere in the middle. It may also help to recognize that rebellious actions stem in part from problems our teens are trying to cope with. While this step isn’t easy, helping your teen learn how to solve problems in a healthier way can be a powerful solution.
At the same time, parents of rebellious teens have to be sure that their children stay safe. If they continue making risky choices, you may need to consider safety measures in the home that will reduce opportunities for getting into trouble. These measures can be physical safeguards, such as locking liquor and medicine cabinets, or using a motion-activated security camera outside your home. Don’t forget about safety with technology too. Because dangerous people can reach teens over the internet, you may want to have a computer professional give you specific tips for keeping your teen safe online.
Just as testing limits and craving independence is a natural part of childhood, relationship issues inevitably pop up as kids learn what it means to be a friend. Young children confront issues like how to share and play nicely, whereas grade school kids start to have problems like bullying, cliques, and exclusion.
What can be hard on us parents is that there are some things we can’t dictate, but we want to guide them on how to handle these issues in a constructive way. For example, Scholastic suggests intervening in friendship problems when kids are doing things like gossiping or being too bossy. We can help by talking about how gossiping can be hurtful or how being bossy makes other kids feel left out.
Body Image and Health
Along the same lines, we can’t force our kids to keep up with healthy habits. Instead, our power lies in how we talk to our kids about health and model the behaviors we hope they’ll adopt. Remember that this is about more than just physical health - you want to promote good mental health too, including having a positive body image.
In many ways, body positivity comes from how you talk about health. Instead of focusing on weight or appearance, talk about how food makes your body strong. Other ways you can promote a healthy lifestyle include teaching kids how to cook, preparing meals together, and encouraging them to try sports or activities that interest them.
The thing about growing up is that it’s a time when kids are learning about the world. Of course, learning is lifelong, but childhood is when parents have the chance to guide their kids through the process. That’s no small feat, but remember - it’s always in your power to ease your children through the tough stuff.