Gonannies.com is a wonderful site offering lots of helpful suggestions that allow parents and caregivers to better understand how to successfully raise a child in today’s environment. One of the articles that they have shared is entitled, What To Do When You Think There Is More To The Story. This post came out on their site on December 22nd and was written by Marcia Hall.
They have come out with their Dos and Don’ts list of how to help a child through a struggle; a problematic area of their life. If they learn to do for themselves, they will become healthier adults. Here is the list of Dos and Don’ts that Ms. Hall suggested to help you help a child process feelings and better understand their own behavior:
Don’t assume you know the story. There is always more to the story than it seems on the surface. It is very easy to look at a situation your child is faced with and come to your own conclusion. Try to control your urge to make a judgment call until you hear the entire story.
Don’t accuse or blame your child of doing something wrong. Even if you believe your child has some fault in the situation, blaming him or her for the situation is counterproductive. If he/she was at fault, he/she will learn more from the situation if he/she comes to this conclusion on his/her own. Never shame your child, especially in front of others.
Don’t assume your child is innocent in the situation. While you don’t want to openly blame your child for a wrongdoing, you also don’t want to ignore his or her actions when they are misguided. Sometimes it is difficult for a parent or close caregiver to accept that the child they have raised would do something hurtful to others. However, even the most well-behaved and kind child can suffer from lapses in judgment.
Don’t step in to “fix” the problem. After the root issue is discovered you will likely know how best to solve the problem. Work to control this impulse. It might be simple for you to step in and solve this seemingly simple problem, however your child will learn nothing if you do.
Do allow the child to be upset. When you love your child, you don’t want to see him or her upset. It can be very hard to sit by and watch someone you love hurt. However, crying and being angry are a necessary part of the healing process. Stay close and remain calm while your child is upset, but don’t try to stop the emotion from surfacing.
Do really listen. Seems simple enough, right? Real listening involves more than just your ears. It involves what you see, the past experiences you have with the child and all the compassion you can find. In order to really listen to your child, you need to give her your time and be focused on him or her.
Do ask questions in a non-judgmental way. Once your child is done talking, this is your chance to ask questions to clarify the experience. These questions should not suggest anything; they should be simple and open ended. What happened then? How did you respond? What did he or she say? How did that make you feel? How do you think he or she felt?
Do help him/her resolve the problem with as little interference as possible. As your child discusses the issue, and you ask clarifying questions, there will likely be an obvious resolution. Avoid telling him/her what he/she should do or doing it for himm/her by talking to the other child or the child’s parents. Instead, help your child come up with several possible solutions to the dilemma. The more you do for him/her, the less he/she learns from the experience for the next he/she’s time faced with a similar situation. For younger children, it might be a good idea to alert teachers or other caregivers to the situation if you feel the topic might come up.
When you ingratiate yourself too much, a child has a hard time processing what they have learned from situations. If you are simply an aide in the process, the child will learn and grow healthier by getting involved in their own lives. Keep these tips in mind as you help your child or one that you care for work through the struggles of everyday life!