Parenting can be complicated and is frequently a difficult job. Children differ tremendously yet are alike in many ways. They differ emotionally and in their temperament based on their place in the family, their biology, as well as the culture and the experiences in which they are raised. Children adapt and grow in response to their environment regardless of their biological or genetic attributes. Environment strongly influences a child’s personality, moods, behaviors, and relationship patterns. Some children may seem especially difficult for a particular parent to handle. Problems are rarely the result of a child’s biology. Problems are more often the result of experience and learning.
Keep in mind that any particular behavior or type of problem can be the result of different causes. In addition, a similar life experience or environment can lead to many different outcomes. Children are more different than similar in terms of how many ways they will adapt to a given experience. Parents are often unable to see themselves or the impact of their behavior because they are unknowingly reminded of their own childhood. The result can be stress in the parent-child relationship.
The relationship between parents is crucial. Sometimes children are caught in the middle of a parental conflict. Children are very aware and sensitive to the stress in family life. Children will usually react strongly to other environments. Children are not more adaptable and less affected by problems than adults. Children have less experience, fewer coping skills and less control over the environment. They also have difficulty describing emotional problems. Children will usually show their distress in indirect ways such as irritability, sleeping or eating problems, personality changes, physical complaints, disregard for personal safety, school problems, problems getting along with others, acting younger or older than their ages, and so on.
It can be very helpful to consult a child or family psychotherapist if your child is behaving in a way that concerns you. A consultation can help you understand the source and purpose of the behavior and to assess whether your concerns are within a normal range.