Parent-Child Relationship

Parent-Child Relationship

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    Very young children will likely not understand what is going on in their family when a service member parent returns home. Toddlers may not recognize or remember the service member parent. Prepare them as best you can with what to expect on the day of reunion. Do not insist that they respond in a particular way to their returning parent.

    It is natural for children to act out or get over-excited when they pick up on the excitement (or stress) of the parents. Reassure them that they are still important to you, and spend a little extra time with them before taking private time with your veteran spouse. Even infants may respond to this change in the family dynamic, especially if they are getting less time and attention from the person who has been their primary caregiver. They may become apathetic, fussy, or have a diminished appetite.

    Toddlers may react to less time from their caregiver with tantrums, sleep problems, or crying, and preschool age children may be clingy or aggressive. They may even revert to a more babyish level of behavior, temporarily forgetting their toilet training, or sucking their thumb.

    School-age children may be whiny and complain that they are sick or have aches and pains. They may also feel excessively worried about both parents’ safety. Do not discipline or punish children when they act out in these ways; they are only behaving this way because they do not understand their own feelings. Your veteran spouse or partner may be upset by this behavior; they, too, need to accept how their children feel and not take it personally. Talk to your kids and let them know their feelings are normal and okay. It is a confusing transition for them. Try to maintain the routines of your household as you always have. Consistency makes children feel secure
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    Children naturally tend to “act out” or test boundaries whenever there’s a change in family status. They want to understand what the new situation is, and where they stand within it. Older children may be angry with you for being away from them. Very young children may even be frightened of you at first, as if you were a stranger. All of these are normal responses, given the special circumstances that come with a return from deployment.

    For your part, you may react to family life in a more “military” way than you did before. You may feel over-protective, or have a tendency to be controlling, or overly concerned with discipline. Remember that while these inclinations are normal and useful in combat, they are not very helpful at home. Discuss rules and behavior expectations with your family and let them share in decisions. Talk with your spouse and make sure the two of you present a united front to your children.

    It takes time to reconnect with your family, and for your children to feel close to you again. Don’t rush the process. Spend some time on activities that you can enjoy doing together, which will give you opportunities to talk and get to know one another again. Notice the positive changes in your family, too, and comment on them. Let your children know you are proud of how they have grown and matured.
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    A , Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease), answered
    There’s a good chance your kids are interested in something you could find interesting as well, but you’ll only figure that out if you slow down long enough to look at it. One of the best times to do so is when you’re together at the dinner table. All families should make better use of this sacred time. Even if the family can only get together once a week, it can become the event that everyone looks forward to and where everyone gets to express themselves;, hopefully it will become a beloved tradition your children impart as they grow older and begin families of their own.

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    A , Healthcare, answered

    One of the easiest ways to discourage mean girls is to encourage a connection between the mothers.  Usually if you call the other mom directly and tell them what's going on, the two of you can find ways to redirect them and even to help them get to know each other.  Helping young girls understand the importance of embracing differences without judgment is very important because often girls are mean to each other because of these differences.  

    Another way to help your daughter overcome mean girls is by teaching them conflict resolution.  If possible, you and the other girl's mother should get together with your daughters, and the four of you should work together to solve the issue.  If this is not possible, tell your daughter to go to a trusted adult at school who can referee the conflict resolution.

    To begin conflict resolution, start by setting some ground rules.  Both girls must look each other in the eye.  They must listen to each other, take turns, and speak respectfully.  Together they can come up with a plan for change by clarifying the issue.  For example, one of the girls may have gotten the impression that the other girl did not like her because of something she said, but by hashing out what happened and the feelings behind what happened, these girls will learn exactly what it feels like to be each other.  This usually helps reduce the harmful behavior.

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    A , Psychology, answered
    Empty Nest Syndrome is a phrase used to explain the psychological experience of loss when a child leaves home. Often shortened to Empty Nest, parents move through feelings of sadness, loss and worries regarding their own identity since their day-to-day responsibilities have changed. Empty nest is most often seen in the Fall when teenagers leave for college, in Summer when kids leave for camp - but can occur anytime a child leaves home (getting married, new job, etc.) Some parents move through the transition of children leaving home without much difficulty. Others experience bouts of weepiness, loneliness or irritability. These are very normal and natural.
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    A , Pediatrics, answered
    Start by talking to your dad (or write him a letter if you think that would be easier). Tell him how much it would mean to you to hear him say that he loves you. He may be genuinely surprised when he realizes that, in all those years, he never said the words. Or, if he’s still under the influence of the old mores that kept him from being as affectionate as you wish he would have been (and, I’ll bet, as he would like to have been), he may just mumble a quick “of course I love you, honey,” clear his throat, and revert to his old self.
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    A , Psychology, answered
    Your values are your reference for positive behavioral expectations in your family. Your family values reflect the mission you have established. Your values also reinforce your family rules, the second pillar upon your home’s strong foundation.

    Once you have identified and confirmed your family values as a whole, then discipline becomes clear, consistent and predictable. You now have specific values you can refer to, which your children will understand and recognize: “We value kindness, so we help our brothers and sisters when they need us.”… “We value respect, so we do as Daddy asks the first time.”

    When you have a situation where children do not live by expected family values, rather than moving directly to punishment or confrontation, really knowing what your values are gives you the tools to guide the situation in a better way. Your goal now is to help your children to develop skills and habits that are values-based.
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    A , Psychology, answered
    On occasion, I have encountered parents who want their children to behave well, but do not behave well themselves. These are difficult parents to intervene with, because they seem to believe that they can be rude and insensitive, and expect to raise children who are loving, rule-abiding, and compassionate. It just doesn’t work like that. There’s never a reason to tell a child, “You’re a baby”…“You’re a brat”…“You are acting like a girl,” or even, “Go live with your dad, I’ve had enough of you.” And it certainly won’t help children to be kind and considerate themselves. Making changes in our children means committing to change within ourselves.
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    A , Psychology, answered
    You might wish to define a separate routine for each child or keep them all the same, depending on your style and family needs. If you have one bathroom, for example, you might stagger getting up, getting dressed and morning bath routines so that your hallway is not the site for an early morning family feud.

    I notice that children understand things in groups of 3’s and 5’s, so you might begin your early morning routine with the first three things that happen in the morning: you get up, make your bed and eat breakfast - 1-2-3. It’s very simple. After the first 3 are established you can add 3 more: You get up, make your bed, eat your breakfast…and get dressed, brush your teeth and grab your backpack…and you’re done. They will begin to experience mastery and competence by knowing what they need to do and accomplishing their daily tasks.

    TIP: It may help your children if you get them each a marker board and write out the morning and evening routines for each child. Then hang the boards on each child’s bedroom door. They can check their routines each morning and evening to see exactly what comes next.
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    A , Internal Medicine, answered

    As a parent, you'll be many things to your child. You'll be teacher, hero, playmate, body washer, chef, coach, milk cleaner-upper, banker, chauffeur, and on and on and on. Heck, parents have more hats than a Kentucky Derby grandstand. But starting from the moment you knew you were having a baby, one job has trumped all: protector.

    When your babe was in utero, Mom's body served as the biological Secret Service, protecting her against all threats from the outside world. And then after she was born, the job expanded and became much more complex. Your urge -- really, your instinct -- is to do anything you can to protect your little one from harm, whether that threat comes in the form of a slippery staircase or a bully's nasty words.


    Keeping a child safe can be one of the most delicate balancing acts a parent has to perform. On the one hand, your responsibility is to provide a safety net, but on the other hand, you know logically that you can't bubble wrap your kid for life (as funny a Halloween costume as that might be). You have to let them explore the world -- discovering, creating, taking risks -- because that's how they're going to learn and grow. But this is hard to do. At some point, they're guaranteed to get hurt, even if it's only a scrape or a bruise.