As adults, I’m sure that we’ve all said to ourselves at some point “gee I wish I had you’re problems!” to our children. After all, all they have to do is go to school and play and eat and sleep.
We do look at our children’s problems as simplistic and totally forget what it was like to experience the feelings they feel.
As you grow up you forget:
- the torture of the first day of school
- your first fight or rejection by a friend
- your first crush
- your first failure in front of our school friends
- feeling stupid because everyone else seems to get Algebra but you
- feeling embarrassed because your body and voice is changing on a daily basis
Not to mention how you had to handle our parent’s moods, stresses, reactions to what we did.
Growing up was painful, you forget this as adults because you have our own problems. So you make light of your children’s problems because they don’t matter as much to you and seem insignificant in comparisson.
We also do this to our partners!
You roll your eyes
You wear a smug look on our face because you were just proven right!
You get frustrated because they seem to be making the same mistakes over and over again.
You tell them “I told you so” with your whole body and attitude.
You have all of the answers!
All of these reactions are not only not helpful (or conducive to a peaceful household), they miss the cause of the problem… the underlying need.
To be accepted
To be loved
To be worthy
Being sensitive to your children’s problems is also essential in building trust and teaching them how to empathetic. You want your children to come and talk to you about what’s bothering them. If you begin to pick and choose what you want to hear, you may miss out on the important moments.
When they are faced with the challenges that growing up brings (boy’s, girl’s, body image… you name it).
When they are faced with the scary stuff we know is lurking out there (drugs, alcohol, peer pressure).
If you start to shut them down before they get it out…
If you belittle them…
Ridicule them for their problems…
You become an untrustworthy source to turn to!
And if they are not able to come to you who do they turn to?
Other friends their age, with their own solutions. Which they may not have the experience to test out or think through. Or may not be the solution you would choose.
Children’s brains go through massive growth between the ages of 8 to 25. They function from their emotional brain while their logic brain is being built up. So solutions and ideas created from their emotional brain may not have been passed through the logic filters.
That’s why they engage in risky behaviour. They haven’t had the experience to think things through. The don’t have all the facts stored in their logical mind. They need guidance (they need non judgmental guidance).
This is what it comes down to:
Releasing your judgement
Letting go of your agenda
Listening to their story
Helping them identify their need
Encouraging them to brainstorm solutions
Exploring options and consequences for their ideas
Keeping in mind their viewpoint of the world
Allowing them to find the solution that fits them best
It’s eaaassssy right?
Well… there is one thing that will get in the way of you being able to do that… and that’s you.
Coming up next… step 9.