PARENTING : FOR SENSITIVE CHILD, ANY `CUTE' ATTENTION CAN BE TOO MUCH.
All children go through stages in which they become self-conscious about what others, especially their parents, say about them.
Whether it is a parent discussing with a friend or relative the latest ``cute'' thing the child has done, or complaining about some frustration the parent is having with that child, his or her trust in that parent can be damaged.
In the ages between 8 and 14, children are trying to fit in socially. They very much want to be liked by others, and they are learning what is popular or ``cool.'' Their image is usually very important. Many a parent has had to let their preteen child off for school out of sight from friends. Those same children will slump down in the car so as not to be seen riding with Mom.
When children overhear parents talking about them, either on the phone or in person, they can become paranoid and angry, shouting ``Who are you talking to?'' ``Stop talking about me,'' as they stomp off into another room and slam the door. The truth is, the child is sensitive during this period of development, and the parents ought to be more protective.
The same is true in the telling of family stories during parties or get-togethers. Be sure to check with the child before making it an annual story told at family gatherings.
It is important for parents to look at this behavior, because the child needs to trust in the parent's ability to protect him or her. At the root, it is a matter of trust and protection. Parents need not worry that they are reinforcing a weak child who simply needs to ``toughen up.'' Nor should they feel they are being dictated to by a self-centered child whose self-image dominates his or her entire life. Those two concerns are present when there is a history of either shy behavior or self-centered behavior that cuts across a wide spectrum of the child's life.
For the shy and extra-sensitive child, parents should work toward helping him or her understand that everybody needs to be strong enough to handle some teasing and/or the judgments of others. Children may need to understand that they are not going to grow up in a vacuum and that others will make comments to them or about them. They can develop a sense of humor about themselves, or they can be more direct in dealing with the discomfort they feel.
For the more image-centered child, parents should work toward developing inner values.
1. Be mindful of the child's sensitive years.
2. Remember that you are building trust with the child.
3. Guide overly sensitive and overly self-centered children in a healthier direction.
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|Title Annotation:||L.A. LIFE|
|Publication:||Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)|
|Date:||May 16, 1999|
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