As parents, trying to understand your child’s way of thinking can sometimes be frustrating and confusing. Children’s attitude and behavior shift constantly. Even kids with happy dispositions can have tantrums or meltdowns anytime. It is easy to say they are just having fits or acting like a brat when these unpleasant behaviors occur.
According to Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget’s theory of cognitive development, children go through stages of mental development. There are four stages in Piaget’s theory: Sensorimotor stage: birth to 2 years; Preoperational stage: ages 2 to 7; Concrete operational stage: ages 7 to 11; Formal operational stage: ages 12 and up. Children go through these stages to acquire knowledge and understanding of the world by performing experiments and observations by themselves. They are actively seeking new information and adjusting to previously held ideas to accommodate newly discovered information. What this theory is proposing is that parents should expect changes in their child’s way of thinking and behavior as they grow up and develop. Parents need to adapt to these changes and understand that their child does not think alike with them. Children are not less intelligent than adults, but they are still going through the process of mental development. Why is why we cannot expect them to act and think like adults.
Below are some pieces of advice to help parents understand their kids better. Following these tips will also help avoid misunderstandings and promote a healthy relationship with your child.
The easiest way to understand your child is through deep observation. Observe how they act, how they express their emotions, how they interact with other people. Your child’s habits are also good sources of information. Look for consistent traits or behavioral patterns when they eat, play and even when they sleep. Through thoughtful observation, you can also identify what are some concerns troubling your child that might be the source of occasional tantrums and unpleasant behaviors. There are things that your child could not tell, but their actions will let you have an idea of what they are going through. Children’s challenging behaviors don’t happen out of the blue; there are always reasons behind them. Observing your child can help you figure out what’s causing these behaviors and help you address them accordingly.
Communicate with your child
Start conversations that will motivate your child to communicate with you. Avoid questions that are answerable by yes or no; ask your child engaging questions to know more about them and to have a better perspective on their personalities and behavior. Good communication between parents and children helps in promoting harmonious relationships in the family. Also, knowing what’s going on in your child’s life by regularly talking with them can help you as a parent to offer the appropriate support and understanding they need.
Listening is probably the best approach to understanding your child. Parents, though busy with work and other chores, must allocate time and actively listen to what their children want to say. Give them your full attention; they may not be able to express themselves clearly through words so be mindful of non-verbal cues. Watch out for their facial or body expressions during your conversation. No matter how trivial children’s concern or conversation may turn out, make them feel that you are interested and you understand them. Children appreciate it when they know they are being heard and are taken seriously; they feel respected and valued by their parents.
Showing empathy involves acknowledging what your child is going through. It is an effective way to let your child know that you understand their situation and are seeing things through their perspective. When they feel supported and understood, children will likely open up to their parents. Showing empathy with your child can establish a strong emotional foundation and secure their confidence in you.
Empathy is also a powerful tool to help you understand what’s behind your child’s behavior, which triggers them to react either positively or negatively. It can be easy to make assumptions about your child’s actions without discerning first what prompts them to behave in a certain way.
Understanding how your child thinks requires your time, effort and patience. Raising a child is never an easy task, but it’s worth all the pains and sacrifices for parents just to ensure that their child will grow up into a healthy and confident adult. Let them enjoy their childhood and discover the wonders of the world. Your child will make mistakes every now and then but that’s how they will learn.
Capture beautiful moments of your child as they grow and develop. Time flies so fast, don’t miss out on the opportunity of having wonderful souvenirs of their childhood journey.