Advising Parents About Difficult Phases

Normal childhood development includes phases of difficult behavior that may frustrate parents and guardians and can prove dangerous for the child. Difficult behavior may provoke anger and confrontation by caregivers which can trigger emotional or physical abuse.

Challenging phases of behavior that may not be under the child's conscious control include:

  • Colic
  • Awakening at night
  • Separation anxiety
  • Normal exploratory behavior
  • Normal negativism
  • Normal poor appetite
  • Toilet training resistance

Understanding normal developmental phases can help parents to plan an approach to cope with frustration and to plan behavior modification with rules and rewards. A planned approach can offer relief for parents and guardians and bring about positive change in the child.

Being a parent isn't easy. Seek out a friend, neighbor or relative who may be willing to lend a helping hand.

Staying Positive While Parenting

Ann S. Botash, MD, has created a Staying Positive While Parenting series of seven pamphlets to help parents and caregivers better understand and cope with some of the frustrations of parenting and "step back" from their child's frustrating behavior. The topics covered are colic, nighttime awakening, separation anxiety, normal negativism, normal poor appetite, exploring and testing, and toilet training.

In addition, there is a summary of survival tips designed to be a refrigerator magnet. The pamphlets are designed to be given as part of anticipatory guidance during a well-child visit. The series can be used to augment the AAP's Practicing Safety toolkit that helps detect maternal depression and improve anticipatory guidance to avoid child abuse.