Uncommon Sense with Audrey Stephenson of Therapy Geek

Did you know that one of the key factors in children’s success, in terms of socialisation and confidence, is the happiness of their mother? Isn’t that wild? Or that language development and behavioural challenges are both impacted positively by the accessibility of the father?

Every week I am approached by someone who wants me to work with their child, and without fail I always say that unless a child has/is suffering from trauma, in which case I will refer them to a specialist, (and there are some excellent ones in Bath) I think empowering parents to learn new ways to support their children, and themselves, is a good first (and often final) step toward helping a child or young person who is emotionally and behaviourally showing signs that all is not okay.

In the age of medicalising everything, when the numbers for ADHD are skyrocketing and appointments for testing has year(s) long waiting lists, parents need support in recognising that they themselves are often the answer to helping their children’s distress. And, by the way, this is not the same thing as blaming the parents. Learning to communicate with your child in a way that invites them to share what is really going on, isn’t something that we are taught. And given so many of us were taught by our parents to “just get on with it”, and were raised with a fair amount of fear, we aren’t equipped for raising children in the age of “putting it all out there”. Many parents also haven’t the first clue, and why should they, about developmental changes in their child’s brain and what that means for behaviour and processing. 

If you were raised never to talk back, never to complain, and to get on with things, and you are raising your children with a great deal more back and forth, and they still “behave badly”, it’s understandable when you find yourself thinking the following. “This ungrateful, disrespectful, little so and so, I can’t believe them. I’m so much better/kinder/more approachable than my parents and they are still…”

You’re not alone. You’re in very good company. But none of that matters when you and your child or teen are battling each other, or they are disappearing, less communicative, anxious, depressed, etc.

So number 1. It’s not your fault 2. Yes of course, you have impacted your children, for good and ill 3. It is your responsibility to do something. 4. The age of your child absolutely matters in terms of understanding what may be going on for them and how much impact you can have on their behaviour in the short and long term. 5. Don’t just focus on getting your child support, get yourself support. 6. Don’t wait to get yourself some support. 

Parents don’t have to be perfect, indeed if we were we’d set unrealistic expectations for our children.  What we do need to be however, is bigger than our children. That means as scary as it can be to be a parent, as overwhelming and at times boring and constricting as it may be – its the job. We don’t have to pretend its easy, but we hold responsibility to face our fears, with support and compassion, and to address our own unmet needs so our children’s needs don’t infuriate and overwhelm us, and/or render us resentful or overly accommodating.  So stop holding your breath, drinking too much coffee and red wine, and speak to someone. We rarely get hurt, or heal, alone.

Contact Audrey Stephenson for a free consultation: audreystephenson.co.uk