What do You do When Your Child Won’t Tell You What’s Wrong?

Sad ChildMost parents experience it at least  a few times. their child looks unhappy but won’t, or can’t tell the parent what is troubling them. For most parents it is a difficult situation to accept. How serious is the problem? Will it have blown over by tomorrow? Or is it the beginning of a drawn-out issue that should be nipped in the bud now? Here are some suggestions which may help:

  • Be patient. Although it is a worrying time for a parent, give your child a little space. Don’t put too much pressure on him or her to tell you everything immediately. Most likely they will come to you of their own accord once they have had a bit of time to think about it.
  • Check with a brother or sister. Your other children often know more about what is going on around them than you may think and if the situation is serious, they will most likely be concerned enough to tell you what they understand about the situation.
  • Do not show anger. Although the situation might be very worrying, allowing your frustration to show is the surest way to break down communication and will just cause your child to retreat into the safety of their inner world.
  • Look for clues. A child who never wants to go to school, or who cries when the babysitter arrives, might be just expressing anxiety from being separated from her parents, or she might be frightened of bullying at school or poor treatment form the babysitter.
  • Do check for signs of physical abuse. Sometimes, out of a misplaced sense of shame or embarrassment, children will try to hide bruises caused by bullying.
  • Encourage them to talk to you about their feelings on everything. Don’t chide or ridicule your children, even if you feel they are over-reacting to a situation. Get them to verbalise their feelings and then ask questions that allow them to explore possible outcomes of various actions.
  • Meet with your child’s teacher. They will have at least some idea of any difficulties your child may be having with friends, if she is being picked on, or if she is having difficulties with her lessons.
  • Ask them if she would like to talk to somebody else. Most schools have a counsellor, or a teacher who every child feels comfortable with. Your child may feel better talking with them, especially if the problem is concerning something happening at school.

If your child’s anxiety and troubling behaviour lasts for more than a day-or-so, it is important to find out the cause. Let your child understand that you are concerned about her and want to resolve the situation quickly. This will help to build trust and ensure that  in future similar situations your child will come to you for help.

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