I think it’s important not to belittle the worries that children have about life – something that may be insignificant to you, might be a massive challenge to them.
Children, just like adults, need a sounding board to get things out of their system without judgement or criticism. The more space and time you allow for this, the more they open up. Just asking them questions like ‘is there anything you want to talk about?’ can spark off all sorts of conversations. I also find that sitting in silence is better than offering advice – the silence allows them to work things out in their tiny minds whilst you are close by.
After talking to my two daughters at bedtime a few weeks ago, I could have easily said to one of them “you don’t need to worry about sitting on a table full of boys,” and to the other “so what if all the class helped with the contact books when it was only supposed to be four of you”. Instead I listened to their worries and tried to encourage each one to come up with ways in which they could deal with what was upsetting them.
I believe that encouraging children to come up with their own solutions gives them confidence, and allowing them to run things by you at any time gives them comfort. Chances are that the issues will go away by themselves anyway, and even if they don’t, at least you will be giving them the opportunity to open up to you regularly.
With the fast pace of life, it can sometimes be difficult to find the time to stop and listen; however, let your children know that they can run things by you at any time – even if it’s just for five minutes at bedtime. I’m going to try and listen a lot more this year – who knows what I missed in 2012…
Happy New Year!
Until next time