How to help children when they are going through a difficult stage

The following guide has been written for Compare4Kids by Tara Springett. Tara is a fully qualified psychotherapist and the author of several self-help books, with radio and TV appearances in Europe and the USA. Her website can be found here:

In my therapy practice, I have worked with many parents whose children had problems like excessive shyness, tantrums or difficulties with step parents. Overall, my results were very good as these problems readily disappeared when the parents worked with the process that I will outline below in its essence.

I am also a parent of a son who is now 14 and I will confess immediately that bringing him up was not always a breeze for me. As parents, we are confronted with a basic dilemma and that dilemma is finding the perfect balance of love and firmness. If we are very loving and nurture our children's self-esteem, we easily fail to implement enough discipline to curb the naughtiness of our children and the anti-social behaviour of our teenagers. Conversely, if we are good at setting boundaries and disciplining our children, we may fail to give them that sense of emotional security that only comes from knowing that one is unconditionally loved. While this is all very well in theory, I have struggled at times to find this 'perfect' balance just like every other parent in the country, I would imagine. The point that I am making is that balancing unconditional love and fair discipline is an ongoing process of adjustment that never stays perfect for long. Simply knowing this will help us to forgive ourselves that, at times, we are all less than perfect parents.

I will now tell you a very simple visualisation exercise that is at the core of what I have used with my clients and my own son and which has never failed to bring improvement for the problem at hand. It is a deceptively simple exercise, so do not be tempted to dismiss it outright.

1. The first step is to envelop yourself in compassionate love. This is done by visualising a bubble of loving light around yourself, making sure the bubble has firm boundaries. Imagine filling this bubble with white, loving light, as if you are giving yourself an inner hug.

2. In the second step, imagine each of your children in similar bubbles of loving light with firm boundaries. If your children are below the age of puberty, take their bubble into your own bubble. Teenagers stay in a bubble of their own.

When we visualise ourselves in that way, it will be easier to strike the perfect balance between firm boundaries (symbolised by the bubbles) and love (symbolised by the light). These simple images can reach deeper into our unconscious mind than words ever can and therefore help us to balance love and discipline more profoundly. Try it out - you may be surprised how well it works.

To find out more about the method that Tara is using with her clients, please visit this page about: Higher Consciousness Healing.