How to Protect your Childrenadmin2019-01-18T18:08:13+00:00
HOW TO PROTECT YOUR CHILDREN AFTER IMMIGRATION
Protect your Children Quiz
Check your answers below.
1. Easy Question:
Communication is the key to protecting your children.
a) True b) False
2. Easy Question:
Drugs and alcohol attract those children who do not feel heard and understood by their families.
a) True b) False
3. More Difficult:
What is the best reaction when hearing your child telling you about a serious problem?
a) Oh my God!!! b) I see. c) When? What? Who? How?
4. More Difficult:
Which sentence judges the child instead of the child’s behaviour?
a) “You are selfish.” b) “It was selfish.”
After hearing your child’s problem, the best thing to do is
a) immediately offer your solution b) ask the child what they are going to do about
What is the best way to continue the sentence to make your child feel safe? “I love you…”
a) I love you no matter what. b) I love you when you behave well. c) I love you because you are smart. d) I love you because you do so well at school.
Check your answers below.
How to Protect your Children after Immigration
Drugs, alcohol, sex… Many immigrants worry about their children adopting certain behaviours in Canada. How can you protect your children so that substance abuse and other dangerous behaviours don’t become an issue? The answer is as simple as it is complex: how you communicate with your children is the key to protecting them.
Why do some children start using drugs and making bad choices while other kids don’t? Drugs and alcohol attract those teenagers who do not feel heard and understood by their families. When children have problems, they need to feel safe to talk to their parents about them. Research shows that children who are strongly oriented towards their parents are better protected against drug abuse, alcohol and early unprotected sex. However, if they feel that their parents are unable to listen and understand, the children will often look for alternative ways of dealing with their problems, and that means they might engage in the same risky behaviours as their peers.
Teenagers often complain: “I wish my parents could just listen to me.” But what do they mean by ‘just listen’? Psychologists tell us that in this case it means listening without overreacting, judging and constantly trying to problem solve.
Make sure to stay neutral in your reactions:
Parents need to remember that if a child trusted them with their problem, a worried look on a parent’s face and a reaction such as “Oh my God!!!!” will ensure that the child will not trust them with another problem again. Why? Primarily because they don’t want their parents to get angry. Also, if they love their parents, they may be trying to protect their mother and father by not adding any extra worries to their lives. The best reaction a parent can display when a child trusts them with an issue is to stay neutral, speaking in a calm voice, and gently encourage a child to provide more details. But be careful not to ‘machine gun’ them with 20 questions. Remember, this is not a police interrogation – your goal should be to try to understand your child, not to gather information.
Judge the behaviour, not the child:
“What’s wrong with you?! How can you be so stupid/selfish/careless?” In these sentences, a parent is judging their child. As a parent, you must learn to separate the behaviour from the child – the behaviour can be wrong but not the child. If you want your child to continue trusting you, communicate to them that they are lovable, even though their behaviour might have been unacceptable. An easy way is to use the pronouns ‘it/that’ during a conversation referring to what happened (behaviour in a situation) and avoid using the pronoun ‘you’.
Refrain from constant problem solving:
As a parent, we often see our jobs as helping our children. As a result, as soon as we hear what the problem is, we immediately start making suggestions about the possible ways of solving it. Unfortunately, in this situation our life experience is working against us when it comes to building trusting relationships with our children. Because trust first and foremost means that we trust our children’s ability to think and come up with solutions to their problems themselves. Show them you trust them by first asking “So what are you going to do about this situation?” Listen to their ideas first and only then offer your own expertise. If you want your children to approach you when they have problems, learn to be a good listener and avoid being someone who is constantly issuing instructions.
Pay attention to body language:
The three key behaviours described above (calm, neutral reactions, staying non-judgemental and avoiding instant problem solving) will ensure that your child feels safe to talk to you when they need help instead of turning to ‘other’ solutions. Sometimes though a child might still be hesitant to bring up an issue. It helps to observe your teenager’s body language. If you notice a change, you could say something like: “You seem really quiet today. Is everything alright?” Again, don’t push or interrogate – all you want to do is to let them know you’re there for them if they need you and you’re open for communication. Remember not to act worried or try to guess what’s going on – assuming the bad thing will push them away.
“I love you no matter what.”
The most important message you need to communicate to your teenager is “I will love you no matter what happens.” Many immigrant parents push their kids to be successful in school and choose certain professions/careers. If academic success is always your primary concern, your kids will hesitate to trust you with any problems at school. “I will love you if you …(get good marks, become a doctor, etc.)” translates into “I will reject you if you…(fail at school, become a comedian, etc.)
To prevent your children from turning to dangerous behaviours as solutions to their problems, parents need to ensure that they create a safe and welcoming communication environment at home based on trust and acceptance. As parents, we need to remember that when children know they are loved, they feel strong and won’t look for ‘help’ from alcohol and drugs in the first place.