How to Strengthen your Kids in the Face of Difficulties

"Mum, if I tell you something will you promise not to be angry?"

How I love it when my daughter comes to me with this question!
I know immediately what this means. My daughter is so smart and is engaging the Empathetic Mum in me.

So I flick the switch from Punishing to Understanding. It is always such a relief to be given permission to switch off 'The Punisher'.

I know that before me lies an opportunity. An opportunity to engage, to bond, to listen, to help and also to learn. And yet it is the opportunity to be the sage, the wise woman that is so delicious and I cannot help but be pulled in.

What do I say? How do I react?

After all I want her to feel she can come to me about anything more than anything in the world. And I want to say the right thing and to send her away wiser, stronger, ready to face another similar situation and to walk away with her sense of power and personal truth still intact.

There are a number of things to remember when dealing with our children's social difficulties:

- No one is to blame for the situation.
- In any situation everyone has something to learn
- By saying 'poor you' you relieve your child of their responsibility for the situation and they learn nothing (apart from helplessness and taking on the victim role)
- By saying 'what you did was nasty' puts them on the defensive, weakens them and cuts you off from a deeper level of communication with your child. You also miss out on a teachable moment.

Name Calling

When my child comes to me and tells me that someone has been calling him names I like to strengthen my child by explaining to him that people are always going to say nasty things. Know that you are not what others think and say about you, neither the bad nor the good. Anything anyone says about you says more about the other person saying it than it does about you. And I may also ask him to think what he did to lead to and help create this situation. In this way he keeps in touch with his core, the truth of Who He Is, and he can learn to see a situation from all sides.

Problems Making Friends

Sometimes we see our children having to deal with problems that we had to deal with too when we were young. But we have to let them deal with it and stop identifying and feeling sorry. For example, a mother who had problems making friends when she was a child will find it very difficult if she has a child who has difficulties making friends and will find herself wanting to manipulate the environment or punish the offenders, but this attitude does little to strengthen the child. In fact I will go as far as to say that in this situation the mother rarely sees her child at all, just herself as a child. For if she really saw her child she would see a little person able to deal with his own problems, with the resources available within himself to deal with any situation. He just needs someone to remind him.

That someone is you.

- Remind your child that in order to make friends he has to be friendly
- Remind him of the friends he has made in the past and the friendly things he has done
- Remind him of the wonderful attributes he has that others love in him.
- Let him know that you trust him to work out a solution.
- Let him know that there is a quiet place deep within where he can find the solution to his own problems.

Just Wanting to be Heard

I have found that nearly every time my children come to me with a problem, they do not want me to find them a solution, they want to sort it out by themselves and they just want to have someone to tell, to be heard.

How wonderful to be able to enjoy such an open relationship and trust with our children. And how great for our children to know that they can come to us with their feelings and hurts and be able to unload.

It is this strong bond and relationship with the parent that strengthens them far more than our solving their problems for them.

Messages to Strengthen our Kids
  • I know you can sort this out
  • I know you have within you what you need to sort this out
  • I know you can sort this out in a kind and loving way
  • You are only responsible for yourself
  • You choose how to react in certain situations and to others
  • Talk directly with the person you have issue with
  • Don't always do what others tell you to do - think for yourself
  • Respect others and their property and apologise if you hurt someone's feelings
  • Everyone in life has something to teach you
  • Every situation is a learning experience for you
  • You cannot change what others say, do or think. Let them be who they are and love them anyhow.
  • We are all just doing our best.

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