The joy surrounding the lead up and birth of a child is often very different to the exhaustion and frustrations parents experience when their child arrives and begins to present some challenging behaviours.
Is it a parenting problem or is there a problem with the child? Either of these possibilities can be quite confronting for families, explaining why discussing the problem is often difficult or avoided.
Parents frequently ask why can’t their child sit still, follow instructions, have fewer tantrums or be less impulsive and not hurt others. They often wonder what they are doing wrong, fluctuating between feelings of frustration, guilt and incompetence.
Most commonly, behavioural problems are the results of the mismatch between specific parenting strategies employed and the child’s actual needs. This is particularly so when temperamental styles between the child and parent don’t have an easy, natural fit (such as an introverted father with a boisterous son).
Parenting styles have changed over the years, but less attention has been paid to the evolving and differing needs of children. Recognizing a mismatch and adjusting parenting strategies accordingly, often improves the child’s behaviour to a surprising degree.
The Developmental and Behavioural Paediatrician can help parents understand their child in a more holistic way and empower them in choosing better parenting strategies. Parenting is a very personal, culturally sensitive issue which we acknowledge and respect when recommending any changes. Discussing issues in front of your own child can be difficult for the parent. However, a consultation is not just a problem listing exercise; rather it’s a constructive dialogue aimed at finding solutions. Most children respond positively when their parents seek help to minimise conflicts and improve their communication.
Parenting styles may have changed over time, but a child’s need to have consistent, predictable, reliable support, attuned to their specific needs yet acknowledging their separate identity, remains timeless. Part art, part science, underpinned with flexibility, patience and perseverance, this is “good parenting”.