Autor psihoterapeut Anda Pacurar Data: 28.05.2008

Being a parent is a full time job, and you permanently learn the features of this job. In your relation with children, it can happen to lose patience, not know how to act, understand how you got in such a situation, and understand their behavior, appeal to solutions which you regret afterwards. Every parent feels this way at some point. Often parents appeal to their power, become authoritarian and think this is the only way they can deal with their disobedient children. They come to a punishment and reward situation, inefficient ways to deal with children. Punishment comes to reinforce the child's undesirable behavior and to affect on various levels his relationship with his parents or with the others. What we are trying to do through these articles or through the family counseling is not to find someone to blame, but to find efficient solutions to improve the relationship with children. 

Some things to know about children:
  • The child's personality is established by the age of 5-7 years. His operating and problem-solving methods acquired by this age will probably help him all his life. 
  • Children are excellent observers, but very bad interpreters. In other words, it is important what they think about a situation, about your attitude, how they feel the situation affects them, and the situation itself. 
  • Each untrue answer you give to your child will diminish his trust in you 
  • We can discourage a child by expecting too much or nothing from him 
  • Discouraging is the cause of all inappropriate behaviors of children 
  • Encouraging increases his self-esteem and respect 
  • Children accept responsibilities at a very young age, if the adults give them the chance to. Even a baby accepts the responsibility of playing, entertaining alone in his bed if he is given the chance to. But if he is used to permanently have someone around him, he will want this thing to happen all the time and he will know how to obtain it. 
  • Usually father and children don't have to assume responsibilities, as mother is so kind and she takes care of everything 
  • The first mother's task is to create a bond with her child, then to extend it towards his father and towards the society 
  • The child doesn't have to be excessively guided, as he won't be able to decide on his own 
  • The child must be appreciated for who he is, not for what he does. Never confuse the act with the perpetrator 
  • He must have the possibility to choose, but in reasonable limits for his parents 
  • Most problems with children are because we don't understand their message, we punish them, and their behavior deteriorates even more. 
Children learn what they live: 

If a child lives with criticism, he learns to condemn. 
If a child lives with hostility, he learns to fight.
If a child lives with rimenlosity, he learns to be shy.
If a child lives with shame, he learns to feel guilty.
If a child lives with tolerance, he learns to be patient.
If a child lives with encouragement, he learns to trust.
If a child lives with gratitude, he learns to appreciate.
If a child lives with honesty, he learns what justice is.
If a child lives with security, he learns to trust.
If a child lives with approval, he learns to love himself. 
If a child lives with acceptance and friendship, he learns to find lovein people.

Encouragement and praise: 
  • Has a humiliating effect, it increases the inferiority-superiority relationship 
  • There is often a "but" 
  • Comparisons to others appear 
  • It refers to the perpetrator, not to the act, so it has an absolute judgement effect 
  • It requires a neurotic striving for superiority, creates dependence
  • It is done based on equivalence. The other one is taken seriously 
  • Doesn't condition 
  • Compare with the one who is spoken to, with his qualities 
  • It refers to an action and it is a momentary finding 
  • Increases self-worth and sense of social communion 
Encouragement examples:
  • Your sister is doing excellent in chemistry. You certainly could do the same. 
  • It is very nice of you that you want to help me, but this time I want to it alone. 
  • I know you will succeed; you just have to try harder. 
  • You two are the only ones who can solve your argument. 
  • Your drawing is great; could you have also colored it? 
Improper goals of children's difficult behaviors 

As we were saying, children can misinterpret their parents' attitude, they can feel frustrated, discouraged and this may bring them to misconduct. As their discouragement increases, they go from one goal to another. First they try to get attention. If he feels he failed, he is hurt and wants to revenge. Then, he tries to struggle for power and if this doesn't help him feel appreciated, or that he is belonging to someone, he renounces, isolates himself, retires. 

Excessive attention 

Through his behavior, the child requires recognition. Sometimes he tries to get attention in an excessive and negative way. He interrupts his parents, is hyperactive, noisy, and keeps asking questions, he is impish, has bad habits. Or, on the contrary, shows weakness or is charming. Parents' reaction. They are exasperated, out of patience, they want to have tranquility. They unsuccessfully argue their children. Behaviors are repeating. 


He is aggressive, rebel, refuses, doesn't obey, lies, has nervous breakdowns, he is palyng the boss. He can manifest a passive opposition by thumb-sucking, lying, laziness. Parents' reaction. Often they get into this fight for power. They feel frustrated, become more authoritarian considering they are not firm enough. This only accentuates children's behavior. 


"You hurt me, punish me and I will do the same". Violent, sullen. Emotionally or physically hurting the people around him. Or self harm. Parents' reaction. They feel hurt, consider their child is bad, rude and they end up hurting him too. 


He doesn't want to do anything, starts something but gives up quickly, isolates himself away from the others. This is the expression of the highest level of discouragement that he resents. Parents' reaction. They feel helpless, don't know what to offer their child, they want to help him no matter what. Instead, they get no response. 

Read the English version of this article: Parenting