Episode 063: How to Support the Siblings of Your Strong-Willed Child

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This month we've been talking about our strong-willed kids and how they affect other relationships in the family. This week we get to talk about something that I feel is really, really important. If you have a strong willed child and other kids that are easier going in your home, you might see that there can be a negative effect on the other kids. This isn’t because a strong-willed child is bad or they are the root cause of all the problems. But a strong-willed child can be challenging to live with and can take a lot of their parent’s attention. Today we're with clinical mental health counselor, Mike Fitch to talk about some of the big concerns that he is seeing. Then he's going to guide us through some things we can do to resolve those concerns. If you are looking for some ways to “Childproof Your Marriage” go here. LISTEN ABOVE OR READ THE SUMMARY BELOW Mike Fitch, CMHC Unfortunately,this topic is not addressed enough. I think parents are so focused on dealing with their strong-willed child that they have a hard time focusing on their other kids. They’re so busy putting out the fire in front of them that they aren’t aware of who's dying because of smoke inhalation. We know that it is A LOT, but it is so important to make sure your other kids have what they need to be healthy as well. I not only deal with this professionally, but I also deal with it personally. I have a child with high-functioning autism and one with cerebral palsy. It is so hard to make sure ALL of my kids are having their needs met. What issues do I see and what do I recommend? Issue #1 Your other kids aren’t getting as much time and attention as your strong-willed child I see this a lot with my clients. One child takes an enormous amount of time, energy, and attention so the parents don’t have any left for the other kids. I know that as a parent of a strong-willed child, your time is limited. So I want to share how to use what time you have in a really effective way. Solution Idea Years ago, a man named Gary Chapman found that humans “speak” love and “hear” love in five different ways. He calls these the “Five Love Languages”. You can learn all about the Five Languages here. But the main idea is that you need to find out what how your children speak love and hear love. Some kids really feel loved when they get a hug and other kids hate hugs! Some kids really feel love when they’re parent says nice things about them and other kids don’t care so much about compliments. You need to discover what love language your child speaks, then use that “love language” often. If your child REALLY feels love through physical affection, you’re not going to buy them a gift to show them that you love them. Rather, you are going to find a time to snuggle. If you learn your child’s love language and use it, it can help them feel deeply loved in a shorter amount of time. This can help you compensate for how much time your strong-willed child is taking. When you have little snippets of time, use it wisely by speaking your child’s love language. To take a quiz to find out your child’s love language, go here. Solution Idea Another thing that I recommend to my clients is for each parent to find a little bit of time to be one-on-one with each child each week. Meaning, if you have two kids, both parents take time to be one-on-one once a week with each child. Parents eyes always get big when I say this. I know that you are all busy and that it is asking a lot. But the little bit of one-on-one time, when used well, can make a HUGE difference for your child. They can feel really important and loved. Solution Idea Make the most out of your one-on-one time by doing something called “Play Therapy”. Play therapy is a well-researched type of therapy where the child gets to be in charge of the activity and the grown ups get to just play along with the child.

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