There will be moments…
Maybe it will seem like days…
When your child is going to get upset.
It’s tough to see our children upset and hurting. Sometimes it even triggers memories of times when we felt the same way. (Like when you were their age and felt like everyone had friends except you).
Other times it may be hard to empathize. It may feel unreasonable and ridiculous. (Why cry because the dog took the toy away and knocked over the tower of legos?)
A crying upset child is a hard one for parents. What is your first inclination?
Comfort and support?
Try to fix the problem so the hysteria will stop?
Change the focus? Cheer them up? Make them laugh.
Tell them to quit crying…it’s silly to cry about something like that.
Give them advice?
Here’s a little secret: Your child ultimately needs what you need when you are upset….
Here’s a little quiz to make my point:
If you were talking to your best friend about something really upsetting, what would you want them to say and do?
A. “Well if you hadn’t of done such and such then you wouldn’t be in this mess. I told you that was a bad idea.”
B. “That’s really tough but one day you will be thankful that things turned out like this. It’s really a blessing in disguise.”
C. “Wow I know exactly how you feel because that reminds me of something that happened to me. Do you remember when…”
D. “That sounds like a tough spot to be in… what do you need from me right now?”
Do I really need to provide an answer key here?
Here are five steps to handle the hysteria while teaching your child to problem solve:
- Take time to really listen and be present. This means stop checking your phone or making dinner. Comment on the feeling. “Wow it looks like you are really upset. Tell me about what happened.”
- Refrain from advice giving or fixing the problem. Listen to the details and reflect them back. ” So your brother is playing a game with your friends and left you out? “
- Be curious not emotional. ” How did you know that you weren’t included? What did you do next?”
- Suggest possibilities that empower your child to take initiative and problem solve. “I wonder if it’s possible that they didn’t know you wanted to play the game with them? I wonder if it’s possible that you could join the game now? I wonder if it’s possible for you to let them know that you feel left out and want to join in?”
- Provide support but don’t fix the problem for them. “What do you think you can do now to get back in the game and have a good time playing with your friends?”
With this type of conversation you are not only supporting your child, but teaching him skills to handle those problems the next time. And there will be a next time.
A great book for teaching problem solving skills….
Wyatt Learns about Good Manners
Wyatt is always wondering about something and lately it is how to get his friend, Max to change his bossy ways. What can he do? Join Wyatt as he considers some rather unusual options until he finally discovers that a heart to heart talk with Max can create a new friendship with an old friend.
Wyatt the Wonder Dog: Learns About Good Manners