Table of contents:
- When the child is rude or openly attacking, it can be difficult for the parent to remain calm and empathic. I advise you to react to the content of his words, not to the harshness of his expressions. You can talk about rudeness later. In other words, when you have shown understanding and compassion for the child, and confirmed his emotions, then you can discuss the disrespectful manner of conveying these feelings to you
- HOW TO HELP YOUNGER SCHOOL STUDENTS OPEN
- HOW TO UNDERSTAND FEELINGS WITHOUT ASKING ABOUT THEM
- Phrases "sometimes"
- Share your past experiences
Video: How To Show Empathy When Your Child Is Rude. How To Help A Student To Open Up - Society
When the child is rude or openly attacking, it can be difficult for the parent to remain calm and empathic. I advise you to react to the content of his words, not to the harshness of his expressions. You can talk about rudeness later. In other words, when you have shown understanding and compassion for the child, and confirmed his emotions, then you can discuss the disrespectful manner of conveying these feelings to you
Some parents face the opposite problem. They are tormented by feelings of guilt and do not allow themselves to condemn childish rudeness. If you find yourself in this position, understand that you are doing the child a disservice. He must understand that words can hurt other people. Otherwise, the child will not be able to build harmonious relationships - now with peers, and in adult life with partners.
Here is an example of a conversation between seven-year-old John and his mother, Pamela. She tries to show compassion and understanding, but at the same time wants to help her son understand that his words are painful. This is a very important and valuable lesson.
JOHN: I hate you! I hate you and your stupid buddy!
PAMELA: I understand you. You're mad at me and Harry.
JOHN: Your stupid buddy is fat like you! No wonder you like him!
PAMELA: I think you are very angry with me because another person has appeared in my life. It's clear. After all, now I devote time to him too.
JOHN: Everything has its time!
PAMELA: I understand that you are angry that I spend a lot of time with Harry. You want me to spend it with you. I will try to make sure that we spend time together every week, as before Harry arrived. It will be better this way?
JOHN: Probably yes.
PAMELA: But look, you can't call Harry and me fat or call him stupid. It pains me to hear that, and it would be unpleasant for him. If you want to say something bad about a person's appearance or mind, do it mentally. You may think I'm stupid or fat, but you shouldn't tell me about it. It hurts me.
JOHN: Mommy, you're not fat or stupid!
PAMELA: Thanks, John.
HOW TO HELP YOUNGER SCHOOL STUDENTS OPEN
After the first questions about divorce, many children close and do not ask anything. There is nothing wrong. All children have different needs for emotional and verbal expression. The closed ones should not be drawn into long conversations about feelings. Just show that you are open to conversation and the child can reach out to you at any time.
It's helpful to do interesting and fun things with him, which we'll talk about in chapter 14. When your child arrives after school, do not bombard him with standard questions like, "How are you at school?" Instead, be specific and conducive to conversation.
Good questions to start a conversation after school:
- What did you like the most today?
- What did you play during recess?
- What do you think of the book you read on literature? (Or another subject that captivates the child).
- What did your best friend bring for breakfast?
- What was funny in the classroom?
- What was interesting during physical education?
You can talk with a younger student not only about school and lessons. He will feel flattered if you ask him for advice or praise him for something specific. The conversation will become more meaningful, and then the child can ask you about something important. However, the conversation may end, but both of you will feel a true connection.
Here are some more helpful tips for starting a conversation.
• It is wonderful! How did you learn to hit the ball like that? (You can talk about any skill of the child.)
• You are great at _______. Have you always been able to do this or have you trained?
Comparison with himself in his favor:
• As a child, I also collected ________. Is it cool now or not? (Children often tell their parents that they are not cool.
You can entertain your child by talking about what you did as a child - weird or stupid.)
• I have never been able to __________. Do you think you could be such a friend to me?
Advice or asking for help - This will make your child feel like their thoughts are important to you
• What would be a good movie for us to watch?
• Do you know any good songs that I could listen to on my way home?
• Tell us what happens in the series (book)?
Common words that show that a child is very important to you:
• I thought about you today when I was doing _________. (A child feels significant and special when he knows that the parent was thinking about him during the day. Otherwise, he will think that you are busy with important things and you do not have time to think about him.)
• Today a colleague came to me and I showed your photos. I've talked a lot about you.
• I always remember how we ___________. Do you remember this?
Questions that captivate the child help him open up to his parents. In the future, he will know that he can talk to you about the most important things and about real little things.
HOW TO UNDERSTAND FEELINGS WITHOUT ASKING ABOUT THEM
At this age, children understand that expressing feelings can be dangerous. This makes them vulnerable, and words can offend someone or be used against them. So when you ask, "How do you feel?" - then the most common answer: "Normal!" Instead of asking your child questions that he or she is unlikely to answer frankly, try a different route.
“Sometimes people feel sad [or another feeling], and sometimes they feel happiness [the opposite feeling]. Sometimes even simultaneously. " Here's a great way to start a conversation about the emotions associated with a particular event. The child will feel that this is not an interrogation. In addition, he will gain an understanding of the duality of emotions, and this is very important for understanding them. Divorce creates a lot of powerful feelings, and many of them contradict each other - children can love and hate you at the same time. If you are honest with yourself, you will realize that you yourself sometimes feel the same emotions in relation to your child, especially when he behaves badly and you are tired and depressed. Show that ambivalence is normal and acceptable. Then the child will not worry about the fact that he simultaneously experiences love and hate, joy and sadness,anxiety and calmness or other conflicting feelings.
Suppose a child says he no longer wants to play with the neighbour's children. You wonder if this is related to the situation in the family. You can say: “You know, when parents get divorced, children sometimes want to play with friends, sometimes they don't. And sometimes you want and don't want to at the same time! " If you say this calmly and unobtrusively, the child will surely share his own thoughts with you. He may reply, “Other children know that my parents are divorced. And I'm the only one like that. " You shouldn't be indignant: “What do you mean? On our street, parents divorced two children! " Better say, “I understand. Some children are ashamed that their parents are getting divorced, and they do not want to communicate with friends and talk about it."
Don't embarrass your child by trying to solve their problems immediately. Talk to him not about him, but about “some children” whose parents are divorced. There may be an opportunity later to ask if the child would like to discuss how to tell friends about the family situation. If he refuses, this is normal, you should not impose your decisions. It is often enough for the child to understand what the parent has heard and confirmed the value of his emotions.
Play therapists know that the best way to understand a child's feelings is through unstructured play, such as a mother's daughter. Dream up with him, and you will immediately understand his feelings. In play, children most directly demonstrate their perception of their own life. It is not difficult for a parent to understand the child's anxieties and thoughts by switching from the "we are just playing" mode to the "we are playing, and the child shows what he thinks about the world."
Suppose you are playing mother-daughter with your four-year-old daughter, and she is the parent. She rocks the doll with the words: "I don't know when I will come home in the evening."
And then your daughter tells you that the baby is crying because of you. It can be assumed that the child is anxious, he needs confidence in the stability and love of his parents. You can play along with the girl - take the doll and say: “I'll be back at nine! Even if you sleep, I will kiss you on the forehead, and in the morning we will meet. " Ask your daughter what to say to make the baby feel better. Use the knowledge gained in the game in real life. Next time, you can tell your child for sure when you will return home and emphasize that wherever you are, you always think about him.
Share your past experiences
“When I was the same age as you, I felt …” Children love stories in which parents appear as insecure children. Even if in childhood your life was stable and happy, it is worth remembering the moments when the emotional state coincided with the feelings of the child. This is a key aspect of empathy, which we discussed in chapter 6. If your child is angry with a parent who left the family, try to remember how you yourself were angry with adults and misbehaved because of it. Do not draw direct analogies, just tell us how you felt at that moment.
For example, you can say: “I remember how my dad once said that he would take me to the circus, and then he did not. If you only knew how angry I was! " Even if the child answers: "But dad didn't leave you, right?" - the conversation can be continued in a positive way. Answer: “No, I didn't. You are probably much more angry than I was then. I understand it". This will confirm the child's feelings and make it easier for him to reach out to you in the future when he wants to discuss unpleasant emotions.
You don't always need to talk
Not all children process emotions verbally; for many, it is enough just to spend time with a parent in an interesting activity. No matter how upset your child is, don't force him to verbalize his feelings. Men feel connected during general activities, women like intimate conversations more, but whether children like conversations more often depends not on gender, but on character. If the child has never talked about feelings before the divorce, he is unlikely to do so after.
An alternative to a serious conversation can be a joint activity, during which communication will start naturally. If the child wants to tell you something, he will do it. It is enough to be available and not force him to talk. But if your child feels that you are only spending time with him for a serious conversation, he will not like it. He will be fully focused on answering "correctly." In chapter 14, we'll talk about activities that can help you bond with children of different ages.
Fortitude or Evasion?
Laura, 43, struggles with her daughter's silence: “My 6-year-old daughter is acting as if the divorce did not affect her. She doesn't want to talk about it.
The daughter still plays with friends and studies well … I know that it is not easy for her, but how to establish communication?"
* * *
Dear Laura, perhaps your daughter is resilient and really hasn't been hurt. If after the divorce the girl's life has remained the same and you and the other parent are both engaged in raising her, then it is not difficult for her to get used to it. If there were a lot of conflicts in the family, and now the situation in the house has become calm, then your daughter may even feel relief. Of course, the possibility remains that she is pretending. Sensitive children, especially girls, understand that parents are under stress and do not want to aggravate their situation.
If you want to know more about your daughter's feelings and direct questions don't help, try other tricks. For example, tell them that some children get angry and sad when their parents get divorced, while others are relieved. Try to understand what she thinks about it and show understanding of any reaction.
You can talk about your childhood feelings if your parents are divorced or you are going through some kind of family conflict. So the girl will feel that she, too, can experience and express unpleasant emotions. Remember that kids don't like negative comparisons, so don't add, "I was sad, but I got through it." Your goal is to show empathy, not tell your child to be more relaxed. You can read books about divorce with your daughter and ask what she thinks.
Use these techniques for a couple of weeks. If the daughter does not want to talk about her feelings, then she is coping well with her problems, or her strategy is to study and communicate with friends. Do not force her into conversation or make her anxious that she cannot say what you want to hear. The worst-case scenario is the emergence of negative emotions that the girl did not experience before you tried to talk. Just show your daughter that you are always open to communication and will treat any topic with understanding. And then, if the girl has any problems or needs support, she will definitely turn to you.
Read more: Rodman, Samantha. How to talk to children about divorce: building healthy relationships in a changed family. - M.: Eksmo, 2020.