Help for Parents of Kids with Special Needs
Avoiding Rebellion: Help for Parents of Kids with Special Needs
by Foster W. Cline MD and Lisa C. Greene
Cultural changes have led to new parenting challenges. Some of the changes are driven by technology: cell phones, text messaging, and personal internet sites. Some challenges are perennial: sex, drug use, choice of friends and academic achievement. But it all happens so fast to children that are so young! Predators target junior high kids on the net. These days, it is a slippery slope from protective into paranoid. Busy parents need practical, pithy, immediately applicable tools and techniques to meet the challenge of raising both “normal” and “special” children.
“What’s In It for You?!” is a series of short articles that will provide the answers you need now. Over the next several weeks, we will explore how wise parents raise children who accept and learn from the consequences of early choices, avoid blaming others for their problems, and grow to make wise decisions. Importantly, for those of us with children who have special healthcare needs, we will explore methods that raise the odds that our children will take responsibility for their medical requirements, take good care of their bodies, and enjoy life to the fullest.
Rebellion for the average youth may look like experimentation with sex, drugs, alcohol or reckless driving. For kids with chronic illnesses and medical conditions, these are issues as well, but our kids may also rebel by refusing to take their life-preserving medications as prescribed. In essence, they may choose death over life. No amount of parental nagging, lecturing or threatening will make them see the light once they start down the path of denial and rebellion. In fact, that can make the situation even worse.
The reasons for poor choices may be complex, but the great news is that parents can significantly increase the odds that their children will choose to make good healthcare decisions by learning a few, simple parenting tools. So let’s get started.
We can help our children learn to cope well with the un-fixable challenges life is sure to send their way. Children lose valuable opportunities to learn, figure things out, grow and develop coping skills when parents continually fix their problems or tell them how to solve them. Our kids must learn to make wise decisions for themselves- especially when confronted with medical issues that need constant and careful attention. They must develop an internal voice that whispers: “How will this decision affect the quality of my life?” And the earlier the better!
Generally, the earlier children make mistakes, the less costly the mistake. The sooner they learn their parents can show empathy and love without rescue, the sooner they become thoughtful and responsible individuals. Nagging, reminding, lecturing, ranting, raving or rescuing can’t do this. This simply creates an external voice that shouts: “You need to do this right and you need me to tell you how.”
So, how can parents instill the quiet, wise voice in their children’s heads and hearts? By giving choices early on in life. Children will generally choose success when they have been allowed to experience early, small failures. Children who are allowed to fail, with love rather than criticism, learn to make wise decisions. So, that’s what’s in it for you.
This material is from the book Parenting Children with Health Issues: Essential Tools, Tips and Tactics for Raising Kids with Chronic Illness, Medical Conditions and Special Healthcare Needs by Foster W. Cline, M.D and Lisa C. Greene. Dr. Cline is a well-known child psychiatrist, author, and co-founder of the popular Love and Logic parenting program (www.loveandlogic.com). Lisa is the mother of two children with cystic fibrosis and a parent coach. For articles, BlogTalk Live, audio downloads, and answers to your questions, visit www.ParentingChildrenWithHealthIssues.com.
Foster Cline MD and Lisa Greene
© 2008 by Foster W. Cline MD and Lisa C. Greene. Permission to reprint is granted as long as the reource box is included.