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Catching Behavior Problems Early

In this series of tips on parenting, I have to add one that I see very commonly, with sometimes tragic consequences. As a parenting coach and educator, I always feel sad when a parent approaches me whose kids are already in major trouble. These parents care about their kids, but for whatever reason, they didn’t address issues when they were smaller. Now they are faced with much tougher issues that require much tougher choices.

I blame this situation on three things:

  • denial,
  • a misplaced trust that their kid will grow out of the problem
  • a lack of knowledge of how to deal with the problem, sometimes combined with pessimism that the problem can even be dealt with.

Many parents let their child’s issues either slowly grow, or simmer for years. They may try at times to solve the problem, but unsuccessfully. Unfortunately, more often than not, that problem that seemed unsolvable when your child is younger, or you hoped would just go away, instead grows and grows until it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Behavior Problems

For example, a child who has behavior problems as a preschooler can turn into a runaway who is a drug addict in his or her teens. One problem may seem tough but is solvable, the other may truly be beyond your abilities. Or the child who lashes out at you and has anger control issues as a toddler or young child can become a teen who is violent and can’t live with you or cope with others.

This point came home the other day when dealing with a client. When she came to me, she shared that her son has been lying for years. Now, her son is now in trouble with the law. What began as a serious warning sign, but easy to ignore the problem, has become a much more serious issue that will take at least nine times as much work. I feel very sad for her because now she sees that she should have got help earlier. Whereas before she could have stopped the lying altogether even if it took a lot of work on her part, now she is faced with much more serious legal consequences for his behavior.

Catching Problems Early

If you are like most parents nowadays, free time isn’t something that you have much of. By the time you are done work, looking after the household and taking care of your kids, you may feel that you don’t have time left to be proactive. However, when your son is suddenly dealing with the court system, you find the time to deal with the issue. Why not start now when your child’s issues are small?

Some things have changed dramatically, but some age-old advice is still sound. A stitch in time can save nine. Time spend proactively as a parent bonding with your child and dealing with issues while they are small, will save you tons of time, and prevent irreparable problems as your child gets older.

We all mean well as parents. Sometimes we just need to be reminded of what is the real priority. That’s why I’m writing this series of tips on parenting so that we can all save ourselves a lot of pain and suffering from problems that grow instead of getting dealt with.

Comment below and share your experience with problems that grew, or that you were able to nip in the bud. Also, share this post with your friends so that more parents can get the gentle reminder to deal with those issues that they putting off or only vaguely aware of with their kids.

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