After 25 years of practicing pediatrics and caring for thousands of children, American pediatrician Stephen Cowan noticed that some of the relationship problems between parents and children occur over and over again.

He turned them into 11 pieces of advice for parents, which he published in an article called „11 Things I Wish Every Parent Knew”, on MindBodyGreen.com.

Here are those 11 things that generate conflicts between parents and children, so that knowing about them might help you turn them into advantages and successfully manage them.

1. Growth and development are not a race

These days we’re in such a rush to grow up. In our mechanized, post-industrialized world of speed and efficiency, we’ve forgotten that life is a process similar to the ripening of a fruit. To get good fruit, you need to nourish strong roots.

Pay attention to the foundations that support your child’s life: take a walk with your child, eat with him, play together, tell him a story about your childhood.

2. Family traditions encourage strong roots and a healthy life

It’s true that creating family traditions takes time and practice. But the result is well worth it. Personal traditions are sacred because they create a foundation for good communication that strengthens the bonds of love and intimacy within the family and build the kind of confidence that will protect your child in his journey through the world.

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3. People grow in cycles

Each child’s life has its own rhythm and pulse – sometimes it’s fast and intense, sometimes it’s slow and quiet. And, just as each spring brings a renewed sense of appreciation for life, each stage of a child’s life is a time of new discovery and wonder.

After all, learning is not just about stacking information. It’s a process of transforming ideas, and sometimes you need to forget in order to see with fresh eyes. Some children will take a step backward before making a giant leap forward.

Growing in cycles means that we don’t get just one chance to learn something. We might have to learn the same lesson again and again, as we pass through the seasons of our life.

There is deep forgiveness in this way of understanding childhood, which takes the pressure off parents who want to “get it right” the first time, the American pediatrician adds.

4. Encouragement is not the same as indulgence

We are not planning on raising little kings and queens. Kings don’t usually do well in our society. According to doctor Cowan, recent studies have shown that indulgence actually weakens a child’s powers of survival, diminishing motivation and his feelings of success.

Encouragement means inspiring courage in your child, not doing everything for him. Create a context of support, instead of one of pressure. Unconditional love is what that encourages your child to take chances, to experiment, and to fail without fear of judgment.

Sometimes being an encouraging presence in your child’s life means taking a step back, always ready to offer a helping hand when circumstances call for it, but always trusting in his innate ability to succeed.

That’s what encouragement means. Indulgence, on the other hand, limits the child’s freedom by inflating his sense of entitlement and reducing the patience he needs in order to work through obstacles when things don’t go his way. Indulgence leads to small-mindedness.

5. Children are our spiritual teachers

You don’t need to go far or spend much in order to become enlightened. Your little spiritual mentor is right in front of you, offering you true wisdom for free!

When they’re little, children watch our every move, studying our inconsistencies as they try to understand this crazy world. And they will make use of them. When a child pushes your limits, remember: they are your limits, not his.
Take the time to listen to what your child is trying to teach you. One of the secrets of successful parenting is being prepared to change out of love for your child. When you’re willing to see your limits and understand what puts you in the edge, you gain a deeper self-awareness that transforms both you and your child.

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6. A symptom is the body’s way of letting us know that something needs to change

A good doctor asks what is the symptom’s purpose?, rather than simply trying to suppress it. Our body has its own intelligence. Yet, so many pharmaceutical ads try to convince us that symptoms are wrong.
Doctor Stephen Cowan adds that much of his medical training was focused on stopping symptoms as if they were the real problem (as rude as if we were asking our body to shut up). We don’t trust our body’s intelligence. We think too much and tend to be afraid of the sensations in our body.

“But children have taught me that a symptom like fever is actually not the problem. Whatever is causing the fever may be a problem, but the temperature is simply the body’s way of trying to deal with what’s happening”, the specialist explains.

Take, for example, the child with a fever. What other symptoms does he have? If he is playful, you may not need to suppress the fever.

It means the body is trying to create additional heat, through its metabolism, to mobilize the immune system.

To help, you can give warm (not cold) fluids to the child, so that he doesn’t dehydrate, and nourishing food like soup to support the body’s struggle.

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