Whether you’re dealing with tantrums, power struggles, floods of tears or flat out refusing to cooperate, it’s often tricky to know what to do and say, isn’t it?
It’s our parenting instincts to want to make things better for our children, of course we don’t want them to suffer. It definitely pulls on our heart strings.
But did you know that your child doesn’t need YOU to make it better for him.
When we step in to fix the problems that our children will undoubtedly face in life, we’re sending the message that we don’t have faith in their ability to handle it themselves.
What your child needs more than anything is for you to ACT as their life coach and help them to work through their emotions on their own. And that’s exactly what Language of Listening® gives you. It’s the 3-part coaching model I use and teach, that enables you to coach your child through any tricky situation.
Your role is to prove to your child that even if they do feel: anxious, scared, apprehensive…
they can do hard things,
they can find solutions,
and they already intrinsically know what they need to get through a tricky situation.
A great place to start is by using the first step of the coaching model: Say What You See®
One wonderful thing about using Say What You See® is it that it focuses your attention to what is going ‘right.’ What your child is already doing to help them through their emotions and towards the acceptance of going to school.
For example, you can SAY WHAT YOU SEE your child saying, thinking, or feeling:
You’re hiding behind the door. You don’t want to leave home yet.
You’re holding tight to my arm. You don’t feel ready to tell me goodbye.
You’re checking your room; you want things just how you like them so you feel ready to go to school.
You’re telling me just how scared you are, yet you’re still getting ready for school.
You’re shouting loudly, telling me just how much you don’t want to go to school.
You’re telling me you’re not going to move until I listen to you. You want to be heard.
You’re crying. It feels worrying not to be with me all day.
You’re feeling apprehensive. You’re worrying what will be different at school.
Oh! That’s annoying! You love being at home all day. The thought of getting up early and remembering all your things, it’s such a change of routine.
Seems like you’re trying to think of a way to stay at home.
Sounds like you already know you are going to miss me. You came up with a way to stay connected even when we are apart.
Looks like you wish you could play all day at home. That would be fun!
If you like these examples and would like more, then check out my downloadable books here.
What you do next is quietly sit back and smile, knowing it’s not your job to fix and not your job to make your child happy. Appreciate that your child is comfortable expressing a range of emotions and with your coaching and encouragement you’ll watch your child find their own solutions. (Much like facilitating a tantrum
Of course, you offer emotional comfort. However, pay attention to how you respond to your child’s tears and uncomfortable feelings. Do you have a panicky response to do whatever is takes to make things better for your child? Does the tears and disappointments send you into a tailspin? You may want to pause a moment and ask yourself why.
The next step in the Language of Listening® framework is to point out your child’s STRENGTHs. By pointing out your child’s STRENGTHs it helps them see their inner greatness and gain confidence in their abilities.
Why is this step so important?
All children already have every possible inner strength. Take that in for a moment! Your child already is brave, kind, resilient, capable, self-directed, motivated, self-controlled, efficient… it’s already there.
Looking for their strengths and bringing them out helps your child see themselves in that light, too.
Let’s look at what that may sound like:
Child: crying, whining…
SWYS: “You’re upset. You don’t want to go to school, and yet you’re getting ready. You wish you could stay home and that we could be together forever!”
Child: (gestures yes. Still crying)
SWYS: “You’re sad, you don’t want to go. Crying helps you get your upset out.”
STRENGTH: “You know exactly what you need to do to help yourself feel better. That shows you can do hard things. That shows how resilient you are.”
A simple way to support your child to cope with their upset is to grant their wishes in fantasy.
In the past I would have thought that playing fantasy would only make things worse and add more misery to an already difficult school morning. However, I promise you, this works a treat. (You can be a silly as you like, it really shifts the mood and brings a bit of laughter to the situation)
Pause a moment to connect and focus on what your child wishes they could do and what their plans and dreams are. It helps your child feel heard and understood and it’s what helps your child accept reality.- that they are going to school.
You don’t need to convince them they are going to school, they already know. The more you understand their wishes and wants, the less they need to prove to you how important it is to them and you’ll see a de-escalation in behaviour.
SWYS: “You would much prefer to stay at home and get all snuggly on the sofa.
Child: “Yes, I just want to stay at home alllll day!”
SWYS: ” You love staying all comfy and playing at home. What would you do all day?”
Child: “I would play all day with you, we could bake cookies together, then I would jump on the trampoline, then we could have a yummy lunch and then I would watch a movie with you…”
SWYS: ” That would feel sooo good. You have the whole day planned, you know just what you’d do. You love watching movies.”
Child: “And during the movie we would have ice-cream.”
SWYS: “Ooh! that would be fun! You love ice-cream. it’s your best!”
Child: “Yup! and it would be with sprinkles and chocolate.”
SWYS: “Chocolate is your favourite. You would love to stay all cosy, and watch movies and eat yummy ice-cream. You know just what you like!
Child: “Yes! maybe we could watch a movie after school and then we could…
When you child’s needs and wants are validated, they feel heard and understood and know you care about what’s going on for them. The majority of the time you’ll see that your validation is just what’s needed to support your child to adapt to going to school.
Being there to offer support and encouragement, but not fix it for them, teaches your child that they can handle upset and disappointment on their own, and it empowers them to handle the school run tomorrow and not to mention, further life challenges.
So, tell me. How was the school run for you and your child? I’d love to know.