Did you know that in our efforts to rush in to help, we’re causing more problems than solving?
What do we tend to do when we see our child struggling? Of course, we want to help our children.
But we act as if our child signed up for our class. They didn’t!
Of course, in these moments it’s easy for us to jump in and offer our help. Teach them how to do better, concentrate harder, practice more. And it’s a recipe for disaster. Ever wondered why it usually ends in arguments and your child storming off?
Your child might be frustrated and angry even, but she didn’t ask for your help. What I’ve come to realise is that just because my child complains, it doesn’t mean I should teach her how to do it or do it for her.
In Language of Listening® the 3-part coaching model I use and teach, the FIRST step is always SAY What You See® It’s saying what your child is doing, saying, feeling and thinking.
It’s about observing what’s going on for your child WITHOUT leaping in to rescue them.
SWYS: “Looks like that’s frustrating.” Or “Looks like you have an idea of what you want to write, and the words aren’t coming out how you want.” Or simply, “You don’t like that!”
And then wait for your child to reply. Your next response comes from what your child just said.
Child: “YES! It’s so annoying, I HATE writing stories!”
SWYS: “You wish it were easier. Writing stories are so annoying!”
You can match the intensity of your child’s last comment. For a younger child, you can even stamp your foot to show your child you know just how annoying is for them.
Can you see, I didn’t try and convince her how much she really loves writing or how she can write or remind her of all the lovely stories she has written before, or how important it is to learn to write. These kind of responses push our kids to get defensive and try and prove to you how they “Really can’t do it.”
Validate their frustrations. Many times this is enough for your child and they will keep on with their work. Amazing how validation and connection are what our child really needs from us to support them to keep going. Oh! And not to mention how much easier is it for us not to fix our child’s problems.
If your child is still feeling stuck, and you think she could do with more support, this is the CAN DO part of Language of Listening. It might sound something like this…
SWYS: “You’re frustrated with writing! You want to be finished with it, AND it’s due in tomorrow.”
CAN DO: “Must be something you can do.”
With this all-purpose CAN DO, you’re prompting your child to find her own solutions and helping her to focus on the possibilities for getting her work done.
If your child can’t think of any, you could offer a few suggestions to get her started like: CAN DO: “You could think about all the different parts of your story, or you could come back to this tricky part later.”
Only then ask…“Would you like some help with that?” Whether or not that’s with homework or pouring her cereal or tying her shoes…
Don’t just jump in and help.
By asking first you are letting your child have control over her frustrations. You’re sending a message that you have faith in her ability to find a way to make it work. You’re supporting your child to find her own solutions.
And when she does ask for your support, you are gaining her cooperation because she was the one to decide she would LIKE your help.
What a difference this little question makes.
When your child has calmed down and finds a solution to her homework frustrations, be sure to point it out to her. This is the STRENGTH part of Language of Listening.
Children act according to who they believe they are. When your child works through her frustrations you can say something like…
STRENGTH: “You found a way to make that work.”
STRENGTH: “You found a solution.”
STRENGTH: “You knew just what you needed.”
STRENGTH: “You got frustrated, and you worked through it!”
Why is this step SO important?
Your child’s future actions are based on these STRENGTHs. When a child recognises a specific quality in themselves, they will start to show you more of it.
These 3 steps I’ve shared with you can stop you rushing in to help, give you and your child space, and empower your child to find their own solutions and see themselves as able to handle their own frustrations.
Wave goodbye to homework battles and hello to a child who has an inner belief of “I can handle a challenge and frustrating homework, and I can find solutions.”
I’d love to know if you’ve given this a go and the difference it makes to your interactions with your kids.
Hope it makes home-schooling a bit smoother for you all.
Want more examples of the Language of Listening3-part coaching model? My brand-new downloadable phrase booklets have hundreds of examples so you are never left wondering what to say in challenging situations. Check them out here.