Overcoming the negative influence of guilt with a troubled adult child.
As a psychologist working with children and teens for over 30 years, I have counseled many troubled, overly dependent adult children. It is heart-wrenching to see these young adults in a self-defeating holding pattern with little motivation. Further unfortunate, as I have seen as a coach for parents of struggling adult children, is how emotionally and financially draining this can become for their parents. Common among this adult child population, the parents, and consistent with the myriad of comments from my readers on this topic, are stories of substance misuse, depression, anxiety, and very low self-esteem.
Troubled adult children often are master manipulators of their frustrated, desperate feeling parents. They know the guilt-triggering painful comments to say to their emotionally exhausted, vulnerable parents such as, “Okay, great if you are not going to help me then I will just end up on the street and die!” Or, “All you do is tell me to get a job, stop pressuring me or I will kill myself.” Sadly, your guilt, which in most cases is not justified, makes you vulnerable to the manipulations of your troubled adult child.
It has felt good to see some readers of my previous posts on this topic respond to one another’s comments and offer mutual support. This empowering social support often takes the place of coaching one another to feel empowered by setting limits.
Yet, sadly, a few readers have responded with hostility to one other due to the polarizing effect this topic seems to produce. That is, parents of struggling adult children often to go “all or nothing” in looking at their situation: Either the struggling adult child needs to be let sink or swim or the parents are okay nurturing the struggling adult along. The answers are not always so black or white.
Guilt muddies the waters for parents of troubled adult children. Guilt plays tricks on the mind. It can convince you that your child’s struggles are your fault. But given the role of genetics, negative peer influences, and personality characteristics that come in to play, parents would do well to serve themselves up some healthy doses of self-compassion.
As my best friend from kindergarten says, “The only perfect people are in the cemetery!” So, if you’ve done something about which you’re ashamed, apologize to your adult child and move on. Do your best not to dwell on it, otherwise it can continually serve as a manipulation tool by your adult child.
Following are five red flags that your adult child is manipulating you:
1. Your adult child holds you emotionally hostage by threatening to hurt or kill herself or himself. Adult children who are truly at risk for self-harm need to be taken seriously. But repeated, guilt inducing, manipulative, toxic plays for attention or leniency to get out of facing responsibilities needs to be directly called out and addressed.
2. Your hear lying through “selective memory. You swear you had a conversation about a plan and everyone was pumped up and on the same page, But then one day, your adult child pretends to remember the conversation completely differently, if at all.
3. Your adult child does not take life on—but you do. You are shouldering his or her debt, taking on a second job, or taking on additional responsibilities while your adult son or daughter is caught up in inertia, being seemingly endlessly non-productive. You and your spouse or other family members feel strain created by the excessive neediness from this overly dependent adult child.
4. Your adult child “borrows” money from you because she or he can’t maintain solid or consistent employment. He says he intends to pay you back but that never happens. Yes, it is okay to help adult children out financially at times, as long as you are not being exploited in doing so.
5. You’re resigned to disrespect. You think that because your adult child has “problems” that lets him or her off the hook from showing heartfelt respect. You may notice that he or she seems respectful when wanting something from you. Your adult child, however, turns on a dime or gets passive-aggressive if you refuse the request. You feel worn down and accept this emotional chaos as normal.
Tips for Breaking Free From Your Adult Child’s Manipulations
- Be calm, firm, and non-controlling in your demeanor as you express these guiding expectations below to motivate your adult child toward healthy independence:
- Set limits on how much time you spend helping your child resolve crises. Encourage the child to problem-solve by asking, “What are your ideas?” If he or she reflexively responds with, “I don’t know.” then politely say something like, “I believe in your resourcefulness and know you’ll feel better about yourself when you give this some further thought.”
- Set firm boundaries with your child if he’s constantly using your guilt to manipulate you.
- While living with you, encourage working children to contribute part of their pay for room and board. If unemployed, for starters, have them help out around the house with gardening, cleaning, or other chores.
- Don’t indiscriminately give money. Providing spending money should be contingent on adult children’s efforts toward independence.
- Develop a response that you can offer in the event that you are caught off guard. Agree that you won’t give an answer for certain time period whether it be the next morning or at least for 24 hours. For example, the next time you get an urgent text that says, “I need money,” respond by saying, “I’ll have to talk it over with your father [or, if you are single, ‘I’ll have to think it over’] and I’ll get back to you tomorrow.” This will allow you time to consider it and give you a chance to think and talk about it beforehand. It will also show that you are remaining steady in your course while presenting a united front.
- Remember that you always have the right to say “I changed my mind” about a previous promise.
- Remember you are not in a popularity contest. Be prepared for your child to reject you. He or she will most likely come around later.
What Is Failure to Thrive?
When growing kids don’t gain weight as they should, it is called “failure to thrive.”
Failure to thrive is not a disease or disorder itself. Rather, it’s a sign that a child is undernourished. In general, kids who fail to thrive are not getting enough calories to grow and gain weight in a healthy way. When kids can’t gain weight, they also often may not grow as tall as they should.
Kids need to get enough calories to learn and develop well. So kids with failure to thrive might start to walk and talk later than other kids, and can have trouble learning in school.
What Causes Failure to Thrive?
Different things can cause failure to thrive, including:
- Not enough calories provided. Sometimes a parent or caregiver measures or mixes formula incorrectly, so an infant doesn’t get enough calories. Problems with breastfeeding or starting solids also can cause failure to thrive. Some families have trouble affording enough food for their children. And sometimes parents miss their children’s hunger cues.
- The child eats too little. Some children have trouble eating enough food. This might be due to a developmental delay, being a very picky eater, a medical condition that affects swallowing (like cerebral palsy or a cleft palate), or a condition like autism in which kids don’t like eating foods with some textures or tastes.
- Health problems involving the digestive system. Problems with the digestive system can prevent a child from gaining weight. Conditions like gastroesophageal reflux (GER), chronic diarrhea, cystic fibrosis, chronic liver disease, and celiac disease can make it harder for kids to absorb enough nutrients and calories to gain weight.
- Food intolerance. A food intolerance means the body is sensitive to some foods. For example, milk protein intolerance means the body can’t absorb foods such as yogurt and cheese, which could lead to failure to thrive.
- An ongoing medical condition. Kids with conditions involving the heart, lungs, or endocrine system might need more calories than other kids. It can be hard for some to eat enough.
- Infections. The body can use up a lot of calories as it fights an infection. And kids who don’t feel well might eat less than usual.
- Metabolic disorders. These are health conditions that make it hard for the body to break down, process, or take energy from food. They also can cause a child to eat poorly or vomit.
Sometimes a mix of things leads to failure to thrive. For instance, if a baby has severe GER and is reluctant to eat, feeding times can be stressful. The baby may be upset and frustrated, and the caregiver might not be able to get the baby to eat enough.
Other times, doctors aren’t sure exactly what causes the problem.
How Is Failure to Thrive Diagnosed?
Many babies and kids go through brief periods when they don’t gain as much weight as expected. But if a child continues to not gain enough weight or loses weight, doctors try to find out why.
They’ll ask for a child’s health history, including a feeding history. This helps them see if underfeeding, household stresses, or feeding problems might be causing the problem. A dietitian or other health care professional also may track the calories in a child’s diet to make sure the child is getting enough.
Doctors measure a child’s weight, length, and head circumference at each well-child checkup and put the results on a growth chart. Children may have failure to thrive if they weigh less than most kids their age or aren’t gaining weight as quickly as they should.
Doctors might order tests (such as blood tests or urine tests) to check for medical problems that could affect a child’s weight and growth.
How Is Failure to Thrive Treated?
Treating kids who fail to thrive involves making sure they get the calories needed to grow. The care team also will address any causes for poor weight gain they find. A child’s care team may include:
- the primary care doctor
- a registered dietitian
- occupational therapists to help with sensory or coordination problems
- speech therapists to help with any sucking or swallowing problems
- a social worker if a family has trouble getting enough food
- psychologists and other mental health professionals for any behavioral issues
- specialists (such as a cardiologist, neurologist, or gastroenterologist) to treat health conditions that could affect a child’s weight
Usually, kids who have failure to thrive can be treated at home. They’ll also have regular doctor visits to check on weight gain. Doctors often recommend high-calorie foods and, for babies, a high-calorie formula.
Doctors also might recommend:
- spacing out meals to make sure children are hungry
- avoiding “empty” calories like juices and candies
- offering foods of certain textures if sensory issues are a problem
- other strategies depending what’s causing the failure to thrive
Weight gain takes time, so it might be several months before a child is back in the normal range.
Some children with failure to thrive might need care in a hospital. They’ll be fed and watched around the clock for several days (or longer) until they gain some weight. After leaving the hospital, the child will continue treatment at home.
How Can Parents Help?
It can be hard to learn that your child has failure to thrive. No matter what’s causing it, there are ways to help and support your child. You can:
- Follow the advice from your doctor or the dietitian.
- Take your child to all recommended doctor visits.
- Call the doctor if your child develops new symptoms, like frequent diarrhea or vomiting.
- Learn about any medical conditions that the doctor finds in your child.
- Talk to the doctor or a therapist if you feel stressed or frustrated about problems with feeding your child.
The Permanente Medical Group
Staying Safe Around Strangers
Now that your child is a little older it is important to allow her a little more freedom. Perhaps she walks to school alone now. Or maybe she rides her bike down the street to the park. She could be home alone for a few minutes while you run to the neighbor’s to borrow something. This expanding freedom is normal and good for her. It lets her learn about how to function safely in the world, while still being protected and taught by you. More than before, she needs to understand how to stay safe.
As a parent, you want to keep your child safe: you make sure she wears a helmet and buckles her seatbelt and you tell her not to talk to strangers. Rules for wearing helmets and seatbelts are always a good idea. The rule against talking to strangers isn’t always as obvious. It can even confuse your child.
- You may have taught your child to be helpful, so if a friendly adult asks her to help find a missing puppy, she is likely to want to help the grown-up.
- A smiling stranger may convince your child that it is OK to talk with him.
- There are times when children need to talk to a stranger, for example, if your child is lost, she will need help.
It is important to talk with your child about dangerous situations and how to handle them. Help her understand that grown-ups ask other grown-ups for help, they don’t ask children. Teach her that if a grown-up she does not know:
- Asks her for directions, to take her picture, or to look at something, she should quickly walk away and tell a grown-up she does know what happened.
- Asks for help finding a lost pet, she should quickly walk away and tell a grown-up she does know what happened.
- Calls her by name it does not mean that he knows her. To help keep this from happening, do not write your child’s name on the outside of clothing or backpacks where a stranger could read it.
- Tells her that there has been an emergency or that something has happened to you, she should not believe it. She should find an adult she knows to confirm the story.
Make sure your child she knows that it is OK to make a fuss and yell if she is scared. Teach her to yell, “This is not my father! Help me!” Bystanders watching a child struggle with an adult may assume that the adult is a parent with a misbehaving child if they are not told otherwise.
Your child needs a plan for when she gets lost. Teach her to ask a grandmother or a mother for help. These people are far less likely to be dangerous. They usually want to help children and are easy for kids to recognize.
When you go someplace where you might get separated, agree on a place to meet. For example, at a grocery store you could agree to meet by the checkout counter with the number 1 on it. Or at an amusement park meet by the big tree at the entrance with a sign or a statue she will remember. Tell her to not go there alone, but to get a mother or grandmother to help her get there.
Do not avoid talking about stranger safety because you are afraid of scaring your child. She already knows that some things in life are scary. Talking about these things will make her feel more confident and keep her safer.
Talking with your child will:
- Encourage her to tell you if any adult has made her uncomfortable, even if she knows the adult.
- Teach her to trust her instincts.
- Reassure her that you will never be mad at her for telling and that you can always keep her safe.
Talk about how to deal with getting lost and stranger safety the way you talk about wearing helmets, seatbelts, and sitting in booster seats. A child is much more likely to be hurt by a car than a stranger.
Learning how to sidestep guilt and be a positive influence for your adult child.
You see your son’s phone number (from the line you are paying for) come up on your Caller ID. It is your day off from work and you planned to decompress. But it is, after all, your child, and you love him, so you accept the call. As you hear his voice, you have conflicting thoughts including, “What the heck is it now?” immediately followed by your guilt for being wary of, and anxious about, what your son is seeking.
Your son goes on a 20-minute rant about how his former boss was a jerk and that he still can’t find another job. He mentions that he has no money for his car payment. You start to explain that you have financial pressures too and he immediately says, “Fine, don’t worry about me!” You then say, “Only this time,” but you know your words have a hollow ring, since you’ve said this so many times before. So, with mixed emotions, you agree to go by his apartment later to “loan” him money to pay his rent. As usual, he promises to pay you back, but you know that will never happen. You think about how this chaos is unsustainable (your son is 29) and wonder when he will ever learn to stand on his own two feet.
Do You Enable?
Enabling, is fixing problems for others and doing so in a way that interferes with growth and responsibility. Do you create an enabling dynamic for your adult child? If he, for example, buys a new audio system for his car instead of paying rent this would result in a consequence of losing an apartment. An enabler rushes in and removes the consequence, giving the adult child no reason or opportunity to learn a valuable lesson.
Helping Your Adult Child Without Enabling
Does helping your adult child tend to become a pattern of unhealthy rescuing? If you try to “save” your adult child every time he or she is in trouble, you may be making things worse in the long run. Do you struggle with knowing where to draw that fine (or not so fine) line between letting him learn how to stand on his own two feet and bailing him out? Parents, for sure, need to be thoughtful about how to assist their adult children without enabling them.
Adult children who remain overly dependent on their parents often are allowed to get into this situation because their parents enable them, as discussed above. Perhaps this relationship dynamic stems from parents who want to be needed. Setting boundaries with your adult child can sometimes be the best thing to do, even when it is hard to say, “I am here to listen and here’s what I can offer, but I also think you will feel better about yourself if you figure this out on your own.”
Whether you’ve got a 35-year-old daughter who keeps asking for money while falsely claiming she will pay you back, or a 25-year-old son who just can’t keep a job, adult children who behave immaturely can be stressful. I have seen many sad stories in my office of families with children over 21 (in one case 44!) who still are overly dependent on their parents. It can be very challenging for parents to set limits with adult children whom have become overly dependent. The parents often feel drained and emotionally depleted. They want their child to be happy on his own, yet they live in fear of not doing enough to help their child get there. This is by no means an easy situation!
In some cases these adult children may have significant mental health issues, including addictions, which need to be addressed. At the same time, mental health treatment does not have to be mutually exclusive from the adult child contributing to their recovery in any way they can. Too many times, however, I see parents overly rescuing their children from their problems. While it may feel good for parents to do this, the implicit (or even explicit) message to the child is, “You’re not competent to make it on your own.” Parents in this situation can help themselves to be mindful of enabling their child by being carefully considering the following questions:
- Does your child now act entitled to, and demand, things you once enjoyed giving—car privileges, gifts, perks at home, or rent money?
- Does it feel like you are living from crisis to crisis with your adult chld?
- Do you sacrifice too much to meet your adult child’s needs?
- Are you afraid of hurting your child?
- Are you feeling burdened, used, resentful, or burnt out?
Encouraging Them to LIve in Their Own Skin—Skin That’s Also in The Game
As children either graduate or quit school, they need to increasingly have “skin in the game” and strive toward being self-sufficient. This does not mean parents should abruptly put their adult child on the street. At the same time, the adult child needs to “own” his or her goals and plans to become self-reliant.
Sometimes, crises occur that send children back home such as a bad breakup, problems at college, or health issues. This is acceptable as long as there is a plan in place for the adult child to become independent.
Try not to be adversarial as you encourage your child to become more independent. The goal is to be supportive and understanding with a collaborative mindset. Be calm, firm, and non-controlling in your demeanor as you express these guiding expectations below to motivate your adult child toward healthy independence:
When your child has a serious or chronic illness, it’s hard to think beyond the next treatment. While health is the first priority, education also is important. School is part of every child’s normal day. Even the most reluctant learner would rather be healthy and in school rather than in the hospital. You’ll want to help your child stay on top of schoolwork as much as possible and plan for when they can return to school.
Not only does staying connected to school bring academic, cognitive, psychological, and social benefits — it’s also your child’s legal right. Under federal law, kids with or life-threatening illness and/or disabilities are entitled to educational support. Your child might qualify for free services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). If your child attends private or parochial school, you might consider enrolling them in your local district, as services are more readily available in public schools than in the private sector.
With a little planning and a lot of communication, you can help your child balance treatment and academics.
First, talk to your doctor about how long your child is likely to be away from school and whether the treatment might affect concentration, doing homework, and meeting deadlines. Are there side effects that might have an academic impact? What does your doctor recommend when it comes to attendance, tutoring, or studying?
Then talk to the teachers and school staff, and encourage your child, if well enough, to do the same. Your child might need a reduced schedule or different due dates for papers and tests. With your help, your son or daughter can work with teachers to help plan the workload. The more notice teachers have, the easier it will be to come up with a flexible solution.
Some kids who spend a lot of time away from school or in the hospital have Individual Education Programs (IEPs). These are customized goals and learning strategies created by the teachers, school psychologists (or other specialists), and counselors.
IEPs consider a child’s individual academic needs. Under the IDEA, kids who qualify for an IEP will receive one at no cost, and get free support services (such as a tutor) to help them reach educational milestones.
Your child might be entitled to a 504 Plan, which will specify physical accommodations to help them navigate school grounds, access classrooms and bathrooms, find an aide, or qualify for special transportation.
You and anyone on your child’s education team can ask for an IEP and 504 Plan . To create an IEP, you’ll meet with support staff from your school and the school district. Contact the Special Services Office in your school district as soon as the doctor says it’s time to plan for your child’s hospital discharge and return to school.
Finding Hospital-Based Support
If your child will spend long stretches in the hospital, ask a doctor, nurse, social worker, or child-life specialist about onsite schooling. Many hospitals provide hospital/homebound instruction at no cost to their patients.
The two most common types of educational support include bedside schooling and classroom schooling. Typically, bedside schooling is for children who are too ill to leave their hospital rooms or have weakened immune systems due to chemotherapy. Other kids who are well enough might be educated individually or in small groups in an onsite hospital classroom.
Licensed teachers who are K–12-certified in various subjects and special education work intensively with students to make sure that they don’t fall behind in their studies. To stay on track, hospital-based teachers or social workers work closely with teachers from a child’s school to:
- maintain curriculum continuity
- create IEPs and 504 Plans
- arrange for homebound instruction upon discharge
- ease reentry into the classroom when the child is well again
School is scheduled around medical tests and therapies, and always considers child’s medical condition and strength.
Whether your child is being educated at school, in the hospital, or at home, remember that getting better is the main priority. So be realistic about what they can handle. Kids may feel an unspoken pressure from parents, teachers, and themselves to continue with schoolwork, and this anxiety could hurt their recovery.
Maintaining ties with classmates and teachers can help your child keep a sense of normalcy during this difficult time. Your child might be able to Skype or FaceTime into a lesson at school over the computer. Programs nationwide offer free or low-cost laptops for use in the hospital. Check with your social worker, hospital school program, or the hospital IT department to see if this service is available to you.
Your child also may feel cut off socially from friends and classmates. When an illness means a long absence from school, kids can feel that their classmates and teachers have forgotten about them. This can lead to depression and anxiety about returning to the classroom, particularly if the child looks different after treatment. Online social networking sites, email, instant messaging (IM), texting, and talking on the phone can help kids stay connected. Also, ask teachers to encourage a letter-writing, email, or care package campaign from classmates — you might even set up a collection box at school where teachers and classmates can deposit notes and pictures.
Arrange for visits from your child’s friends. If the doctor says it’s OK and your child is up to it, encourage him or her to attend school plays, sports events, classroom parties, and other social gatherings.
Hospital school programs and Child Life departments can help students who are going back to school. Depending on a child’s needs, they may visit the school ahead of the return date, speak with faculty, attend IEP meetings, or explain to classmates why the child has been absent, what they can expect when the child returns, and — most important — how they can help the child feel welcome.
Staying connected will make for a smoother transition socially, emotionally, and academically when your child returns to school after treatment.
The HIPAA Privacy Rule can get in your way
Early one October morning, Sheri E. Warsh, a mother of three from Highland Park, Ill., stepped out of the shower to a ringing phone. On the other end, her 18-year-old son’s college roommate delivered terrifying news. Her son—270 miles away at the University of Michigan—was being rushed by ambulance to an emergency room in severe, unrelenting chest pain. “I was scared out of my mind, imagining the worst,” Warsh said.
In a panic, she called the ER for details about the medical emergency. What she got instead was a rebuff from a nurse. “She asked me how old my son was, and when I said 18, she told me I had no right to talk to the doctor,” Warsh said.
Was the nurse acting within her scope? In fact, she was. The ER chose not to disclose the son’s medical condition due to the Privacy Rule of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA.
“Once a child turns 18, the child is legally a stranger to you,” says Jane F. Wolk, a trusts and estates attorney practicing in New York and New Jersey, referring to the legal age in almost all states. (In a few, the legal age is older.) “You, as a parent, have no more right to obtain medical information on your legal-age son or daughter than you would to obtain information about a stranger on the street.” And that’s true even if a young adult is covered under his or her parents’ health insurance, and even if the parents are paying the bill.
A medical provider can choose to disclose protected health information to a family member, even without the patient’s authorization, if, in her professional judgment, it serves the best interest of the patient. But providers often come down on the side of patient privacy, particularly if they have never met the family member.
Had trouble helping a college-age child with a health crisis?
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How to Ensure You’ll Have Access to Your Child
In this case, Warsh’s son didn’t intend to keep his parents in the dark during his medical emergency. In the midst of cardiac-care chaos, he was in too much pain to give authorization. But a simple, signed legal document (or two, in some states) would have smoothed the way.
“Nobody is talking about this, even after I went to so many college meetings and orientations,” Warsh said. The irony of her story is that Warsh is an attorney specializing in trusts and estates as a partner at a Chicago law firm. “Now in my practice I have made it my goal to educate parents on what they need to do.”
Moms and dads who still think of themselves as protectors and advisers, even after their children become legal adults, often don’t consider the real-world implications of that milestone birthday. They and their children need to think about the unthinkable in advance. Three forms—HIPAA authorization, medical power of attorney, and durable power of attorney—will help facilitate the involvement of a parent or other trusted adult in a medical emergency.
If a student attends college out of state, fill out the forms relevant to the home state and school state to avoid any challenges. If the school has its own form, sign that one too, Warsh says. “When the doctor or medical institution sees it, you want them to be familiar with it and recognize it,” she says.
Once the forms are completed, it’s a good idea to scan and save them so they’re readily available on a smartphone or home computer.
You don’t need a lawyer to do this. Many websites have forms that can be downloaded. But a lawyer’s involvement can benefit in making sure you’re using the right form, explaining it, and advocating on your behalf in case something goes wrong.
HIPAA authorization: A signed HIPAA authorization is like a permission slip. It allows healthcare providers to disclose your health information to anyone you specify. A stand-alone HIPAA authorization (not incorporated into a broader legal document) doesn’t have to be notarized or witnessed. This document alone, signed in advance by her son, would have sufficed for Warsh to get information from the hospital treating him. Young people who want parents to be involved in a medical emergency but fear disclosure of sensitive information need not worry; HIPAA authorization doesn’t have to be all-encompassing. Young adults can stipulate not to disclose information about sex, drugs, mental health, or other details they might want to keep private.
Medical power of attorney: In signing a medical POA, you appoint an “agent” to make medical decisions on your behalf in case you are incapacitated and can’t make such decisions for yourself. Each state has different laws governing medical POAs and therefore different legal forms. In many states, HIPAA authorization is rolled into the standard medical POA form. Whether the medical POA requires the signature of a witness or notary varies by state.
For the sake of clarifying often-used terms: A medical POA sometimes goes by other names, such as healthcare power of attorney, designation of healthcare proxy, or durable power of attorney for health care. It is one type of advance directive. The other type is a living will, which specifies your wishes with regard to interventions in life-or-death scenarios in case you are unable to do so. In many states, the language for a living will is also incorporated into a hybrid document that includes the medical POA and HIPAA release.
Durable power of attorney: As an additional step, young adults might consider appointing a durable power of attorney, enabling a parent or other designated agent to take care of business on their behalf. If the student becomes incapacitated or if he or she is studying abroad, the durable power of attorney would be able to, for example, sign tax returns, access bank accounts, and pay bills. Durable POA forms vary by state. In some states the medical POA can be included in the durable POA form. “The durable power of attorney is sweeping,” Wolk says. “You do not want to give it to someone you do not trust.”
This article was co-authored by Tracey Rogers, MA. Tracey L. Rogers is a Certified Life Coach and Professional Astrologer based in the Washington, DC Metropolitan Area. Tracey has over 10 years of life coaching and astrology experience. Her work has been featured on nationally syndicated radio, as well as online platforms such as Oprah.com. She is certified by the Life Purpose Institute, and she has an MA in International Education from The George Washington University.
There are 10 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.
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Years ago children were labeled using terms that indicated how “dumb” or “smart” they were thought to be. Much of this labeling occurred in schools. School’s main source of evaluation was a student’s ability to perform on paper. As we now know, this type of evaluation had many problems and limitations. But at the time, it resulted in students who had unusually great abilities sometimes being labeled as dumb. This was especially true if a child had differing ways of approaching, comprehending, and engaging problems. Fortunately, today we recognize that there are many different types of intelligence and many different ways that children can express their abilities.
Tracey Rogers, MA
Certified Life Coach Expert Interview. 6 January 2020. You can do this through formal or informal means. This way, not only will you be able to see how your child performs in different types of situations, but you’ll also be able to see what your child is most interested in.
- Consider signing your child up for athletic activities, artistic activities, and intellectual activities.
- Suggest activities to your child, but if they refuse to go, you should reconsider the activity.
- While having your child sign up for many extracurricular activities is a good thing, make sure that your child is not over-committed and still has time to be a kid.
- Make sure your child plays with peers and friends of different cultural and socioeconomic levels. You never know when someone from a different background will introduce an activity that your child will excel at.  X Research source
Tracey Rogers, MA
Certified Life Coach Expert Interview. 6 January 2020.
- Ask your child what academic subjects she thinks she is best at as well as which she enjoys the most. Make sure you differentiate between enjoyment and talent.
- Ask your child if she thinks she’s good at any sports as well as which sports she enjoys the most.
- Ask your child if she thinks she is good at art and if she enjoys doing artistic things.
- Your child may not be able to articulate what she is good at. However, if she enjoys certain activities, this may point to a talent she is unaware of.  X Research source
Once upon time, you may have worn your motherвЂ™s favorite apron while arranging miniature tea sets on a tiny table, serving imaginary tea and scones to your favorite doll. Or you may have been in command of your action figures, leading them to the battlefield in the center of your living room.
The character you were playing when you were young – a chef in a play kitchen or a general in the Stars Wars of your imagination вЂ“ are still perhaps being played by many children nowadays. Pretend play is such a source of joy that even with the advent of so many modern games, this old-fashioned imaginative play never loses its appeal.
Promoting Pretend Play
Because of the many benefits it can give, children should be encouraged to engage in pretend play. But never impose the idea or it will lose its appeal. Here are some scenarios for starting a pretend play:
– If you see your little girl constantly dressing up her doll, ask her where her dolly is off to and maybe itвЂ™s better for little dolly to have something to eat in the play kitchen before taking off.
– When your little boy is playing with his action figures, comment on how the little ones need the guidance of a teacher or the care of a doctor.
– If your child pretends to be a wild animal ready to pounce on you, go along with it. You can act scared at first and then pretend to tame him by giving imaginary food and petting him on the head.
As children warm up to the idea of role playing, whoeverвЂ™s babysitting would usually be assigned a role. It may seem ridiculous for a grown up like you to assist in a play kitchen or act as the customer in a lemonade stand the size of your arm. But the benefits it can bring to your child wonвЂ™t make it so ridiculous anymore.
Benefits of Pretend Play
Social and Emotional Development – Children can become whoever they want to be in pretend play. Because of this, they are able to get a very basic view of how itвЂ™s like to be a doctor with his toy hospital or how itвЂ™s like to be a chef with her play kitchen. As kids act out the part of somebody else, empathy is planted. When children realize they can be any character they want to be, their self-confidence could grow. And with this comes the desire and strength to explore new things.
Mental Development – Even if itвЂ™s just childвЂ™s play, there are also many problem-solving situations that children encounter during role playing. It may be a concern on what material should best replace a lost play kitchen spoon or who among the action figures to pick as the second in command. The process of looking for solutions to obstacles develops the analytical skills of your child. It also promotes resourcefulness, creativity, abstract thinking and logical reasoning.
Communication – Whether children are playing with their parents, playmates, dolls or imaginary friends, they will always engage in conversation. A child starts to learn the importance of communication, especially when he or she mimics grown-up talk and actions. When children pretend to read to their dolls or write down grocery lists, they may be motivated to start learning how to read and write.
So encourage your child to pretend play. You can start off by presenting a play kitchen or a doctorвЂ™s kit. Remember, the skills that your child learns here are the skills that matter in real life.