No matter how intelligent or creative a parent or caregiver may be in trying to stay emotionally connected with their child, they soon come to realize that the greatest gifts they can give to their child is quite simply their unconditional love and understanding.
Being mindful of the challenges children face at each developmental stage is paramount to understand children’s emotional needs. This knowledge will help parents or caregivers to stay connected with their children because they understand the unique emotional needs of their child on a day-to-day basis.
This link provides some insight into developmental stages according the developmental theory by psychologist Erik Erikson.
Regardless of the developmental theory, children are really just trying as all of us do to find a sense of belonging. Children’s emotional connection with their parents or caregivers starts from the day they are born as they are nurtured and reassured in times of hurt, sickness, and fear. When children begin to interact with their second society, namely, the social world, parents stay connected by extending their trust and faith in their child’s own abilities to navigate this new world.
Because children naturally long for more and more independence as they grow older, many power struggles ensue and challenge the child-parent bond. I like to use the analogy of a quarter back throwing a football to a receiver to illustrate to parents not to underestimate or overestimate their child’s abilities to manage life’s responsibilities.
If the receiver (adolescent) is to catch the ball, the quarterback (parent-caregiver) must throw it within his or her reach. If the ball is thrown too short or too far, the receiver will not be able to catch it and advance. In the same way parent(s) or caregiver(s) continue to keep connecting with your advancing child’s need for independence and self-confidence by leading them to the end (zone) goal of independence.
Please stay tuned for the next topic: Understanding and resolving sibling rivalry.