Warning signs are a very sensitive issue as they depend a lot on the individual child. Some signs are very difficult for parents to detect and others may be due to different reasons. We’re well aware that especially children going through puberty may show changes in their behavior that cannot easily be attributed to a specific reason but to their changing relation with their whole social environment. Becoming more independent and developing one’s own personality (finding out who they are and who and what they want to be) can be a painful process for all sides and lead to misunderstandings and crisis.
A participative attitude towards the child from the very beginning of early childhood is a good way that can be adapted and expanded on every step on the way creating an atmosphere of trust and security in which also youngsters growing up will feel accepted, respected and loved for what they are and how they are. In such an atmosphere changes in attitude should be easier to detect and to address. Nevertheless direct questions like “Why don’t you meet with so-and-so any longer?” or remonstrating on school results (“Couldn’t you have done better on that test?”) might not lead to a satisfactory answer. A more cooperative approach like: “I haven’t seen you meet so-and-so for a while. Would you like to invite him/her over the weekend/for Halloween/ Thanksgiving/for dinner on Friday evening,….” or “You don’t seem to be very happy with your test result. Was there a problem with understanding? Can I help you with anything in that subject?/Would you like to go through the difficulties?...”
Children very often find their parents too inquisitive especially regarding friends, school matters and their activities on the internet. So instead of addressing these subjects directly you might want to suggest to do activities together where these topics will come up “automatically” and led the child to talk about them out of his own. Example: Seeking your child’s help for something you would like to do on your computer but you can’t manage. They’ll feel proud to share their knowledge and you may get more information about their dealings on the net.
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.