Have you ever given it a thought that we are all born with a certain amount of potential and only realise a small portion of that potential? It’s sad to think that most of us pass on without having a clue of exactly how much of our potential hasn’t been actualized. This problem starts the moment that we are born. Unfortunately we can’t just grow up into mature adults; we need to be brought up by an adult/s, usually our parents in order to become an adult.

How do we, as adults know how much potential our child/ren have? So much is dependent on how we bring them up. We as parents have to equip them with life tools in order to cope with the ‘jungle’ out there. Dependent children can never fulfil their potential as they lack the confidence, self-belief and self-esteem to take on the challenges that life puts to them.

When our children begin exhibiting problems, whether behavioural or cognitive they are usually sent for a clinical assessment which then informs the parents that their child is ADD, anxious, depressed, has a reading problem, low muscle tone etc. A diagnosis on the child’s potential cannot be made by any clinical assessment, and this area is largely being neglected with very negative results. The parents, being the key players in helping develop their child’s potential are usually left high and dry without any real concrete advice on how to address this problem. As a result, parents are spending a huge amount of money sending their children for different kinds of therapy/ies as well as being advised to medicate their child. Children are labelled at an early age and actually have no idea that they have a problem.

By leaving the parent out of this loop, a gap has been created regarding the effective diagnosis of the child and this often provokes a huge amount of anxiety in parents, leaving them totally confused by the different advice that they’re given.

Parents need to understand that children have no power of authority and therefore they should not abuse their authority by expecting their children to accede to every request. For instance they cannot expect their child to run an errand for them and if the child refuses because they’re in the middle of watching a TV programme, punish the child. Parenting has to be consistent and situations pre-empted e.g. let your child know before an event what the rules are and the consequences that may follow if a rule is broken. On the other hand the child has to understand that their parent cannot always be available for their every whim. Parents are allowed time out and children need to understand this.

My name is Dr. Ken Resnick; I am an educational psychologist and family negotiator residing in Johannesburg, South Africa. My book ‘Parenting Decoded’ equips parents with the insight, knowledge and understanding which will ensure that they guide their child to adulthood, fully equipped with the skills needed to take on the challenges that life offers.

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