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  • Writer's pictureP.E.T. South Africa

Help! My child has a problem

A child will come across many ups and downs in life. They will have many strong feelings, thoughts, or problems and as a parent, it’s not always easy to determine at what point to intervene. You’ve been there, you know the solutions, and you want to make life easier for your child or not have him/her repeat your own mistakes. But is it your place?

Many would argue; yes! It is your place to intervene. Your role is to help and protect, no argue about that, but what if your intervention could be robbing your child from an important phase in his/her development?

The only reason you have a solution to your child’s problem is that at some point in your lifetime you were allowed to experience and express the upset, learn to regulate that upset, and find a solution on your own.

Nevertheless, it is still difficult not to give solutions, especially when your child is crying his/her eyes out in front of you. Here are three golden rules to follow if your child approaches you with a problem.

Stop, breathe, and listen

Don’t interrupt! Allow your child to experience emotions. Your non-verbal responses like facial expressions and body language will be crucial to show that you are tuned in to every word your child is saying.

On rare occasions, you might not have to say anything at all. The non-verbal cues will be enough for your child to carry on expressing until it ends with him/her solving their own problem. Sometimes all that’s needed is a safe place to feel, express, and to let go.

Allow your child ownership of the problem

In simple terms, don’t make your child’s problem your own. Try to remain objective and passive. Your child is busy experiencing upset and chaos and does not need you to become upset and part of the chaos.

"When little people are overwhelmed by big emotions, it's our job to share our calm, not to join their chaos.” - L.R. Knost

Acknowledge and open the door

Make use of simple verbal acknowledgments such as: “I see…”, “I hear you…”. In some cases, your child will need a little push to talk and open up, only then you can use words of encouragement “door openers” to open up, for example:

“Sounds like you have some strong feelings about that?” or “Do you want to talk about it?”

To wrap up, your child wants to feel understood and accepted – the solution to the problem will follow. When a child solves a problem on his or her own that child does so independently and will carry on doing so well into adulthood. The whole process leads to a profound feeling of achievement. So, don’t be a buffer and don’t interrupt, allow your child the pleasure of reaching this sense of achievement.

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Disclaimer: The information contained in this communication is not to be construed as medical advice. Consult a professional on any medical or psychological concerns. The articles and blogs are posted only as opinion or ideas, and are general in nature. The administrator takes no responsibility for any action or outcome a reader may make as a result of reading a post.

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