Developing in children the ability to handle personal crisis or loss

We all face disappointment and loss in life. Children do too. While adults might have a more developed mental capacity to understand the crisis they are going through, the same is not true for children. Your major goal as a parent should be to enhance the emotional growth and maturity of your children. One of the ways you can ensure this is to help them successfully go through their inevitable moments of crisis and loss.

Norman Wright, in his book, The Power of a Parent’s Words said:”… Often a child’s crisis experiences are minor in comparison to an adult crisis, so we tend to express messages of denial instead of nurturing the child through the experience.” The events and experiences that appear so big and significant to a child might appear to an adult as very trivial occurrences. So what you need to do as a parent is to try to look at the event from the child’s perspective, considering his age and experience in life. Children often face such disappointments as a favorite toy that stopped functioning, not being selected for the school sports team, failing an important promotion examination, not performing up to expectations in certain situations or new clothes that do not perfectly fit. All these may look trivial to parents. However, the biggest mistake parents can make under such circumstances is to dismiss the child’s disappointment, or even deny the existence of the crisis.

What parents need to do to help their children face personal crises or deal with a loss is to acknowledge their grief and the severity of their problem. Affirm the child’s ability to deal with it. In moments of crisis, parents need to identify with what the child is going through. To do otherwise will discount the child and hinder his or her growth and development. Do not deny the existence or severity of the crisis so as not to hinder the child’s ability to solve his problem.

What the child needs most at this point are nurturing messages. Parents should allow the initial grief to subside, then continue to nurture the child by suggesting alternative solutions to the problem. That way, you can ensure the growth of your child not only emotionally but also enhance his ability to overcome setbacks.


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