I want to share with my readers two significant scenarios. The first involves a ten year old adolescent coming home from school, crying inconsolably and is distraught because his best friend abandoned him and joined a group who is taunting him. The second concerns a fourteen year old teenager who attempted to commit suicide because of internet lies in which thoughtless classmates defamed her.
These two happenings are experienced very often. In both situations, the parents should have given their offspring the strength and knowledge of how to handle these and other threatening situations before the actual event occurred.
A parent is a mentor, a guide, a confidant and a friend and should equip children with important life’s skills that will protect them from harm’s way. The parent should encourage children to be proud of who they are, recognize their child’s feelings of insecurity and more importantly, should try to strengthen their children’s weaknesses and encourage them to improve whatever attributes are needed to be altered for their well-being.
A child must be equipped with the knowledge of what potential calamities might lay ahead and understand how to handle most potential situations.
When is the best time in a child’s life to discuss these issues?
Skills are taught from the moment the child is born. However, the critical time to teach management skills to avoid possible future major calamities in life is between the ages of six and eleven. Parents should encourage all siblings to attend a MONTHLY FAMILY MEETING, which should be scheduled at a convenient time.
Any topic can be raised and all family members are encouraged to give their opinions at the meeting. The discussions need not come in any particular order. Some topics will be brought up because of a recent event or an experience of one of the family members. The remainder of the meeting should be devoted to discussing potential situations that children might encounter in the future. The parents should direct but not dominate the conversations so that the best conclusions are arrived by consensus.
Having important dialogues between children and parents should be a common event in all homes, especially when the child is young and, hopefully, before the devastating event happens. The discussions should be very light in tone and in good humor and yet be informative and instructive to the child. The parent must allow children to express their opinions openly and not be fearful or ashamed of describing events that they might have encountered. All family members must exercise confidentiality and, hopefully, the siblings will develop a strong, loving and trustful bond between themselves.
Let’s examine the two scenarios presented earlier. In both situations, the children were emotionally traumatized, having been accosted by fellow classmates, and not having the knowledge of how to respond, both emotionally and physically.
On the other hand, let’s assume that the children were exposed in a FAMILY MEETING prior to the potential situations mentioned above and understood what steps should be taken. In both examples, the children would know what to do and say. Very importantly, children should never feel ashamed to discuss what happened to them with their parents. Topics apropos to the Family Meeting need not follow any particular order.
Parents and educators are encouraged to obtain a free e-book copy, PREPARING CHILDREN FOR THE FUTURE by submitting a request on the email site, AskDrMel@yahoo.com. A hard copy can be obtained on Amazon.com. This manual will guide the parents in instructing important life management skills. A suggested curriculum can be found in the book.
“Dr. Mel” is a Pediatrician who has always championed the needs of children and represents a non-profit corporation, Rewarding Life, Inc., whose mission is to instruct children how to avoid harm’s way. He is a graduate of Cornell–Weill Medical School and completed his professional training as Pediatric Chief Resident at the New York Presbyterian Hospital. He is the author of medical and lay articles, the latter under the by-line, “ASK DR. MEL”. Rewarding Life Inc.,a non-profit 501(c)(3)) corporation supllies free teaching materials to schools, drug rehabilitation centers, correctional facilities and other non-profit organizations.
Comments and queries should be addressed to AskDrMel@yahoo.com.