How to talk to your children when they are upset

Children are capable individuals. Do not underestimate what they can do. They should be taught how to solve their problems through scaffolding. This is the start of teaching them how to think independently as we do not want them to everytime rely on us. We should give children the power to think and make smart choices by themselves.

There are many issues that children encounter in their day to day life. Some of these are simple ones and others might not be that easy. No matter how plain or difficult it is, it should not be disregarded when it bothers our children.

Here are the four steps to guide us when talking to our children regarding their problems:

1. Let children talk or explain the whole situation. When you see your child is upset, angry or sad, let them share what disturbs them. If they are not ready, allow them to calm down or cool down and let them explain later when they are ready. Avoid judgment.

2. Ask processing questions. Children will not give all the information that you need. For example, they will say “I do not like my sister! She took my toys!” So, your job is to elicit all the information that you need. Acknowledge the child’s feeling like “Oh… You are upset because your sister took your toy”. After acknowledging the child’s feeling, start to ask questions to draw the precedent behavior or what causes the sister to take his toy. Is it because he does not share? Is it because he played for so long? Or is it because the sister does not know how to wait for her turn?

3. Help the child to see what went wrong. After listening to the child and assessing what went wrong, talk to the child. If the child is the one at fault, ask him questions that will make him realize what went wrong. If it is the sister’s fault, talk to the sister and explain what was wrong and let her apologize to her brother. If both children have mistakes, talk to them and ask questions that will make them see what went wrong.

4. Allow the child to identify socially acceptable ways to address the issue. Let the children conclude the talk by stating what they have learned from this scenario or what they will do next time when they face the same problem.

Empower children as they solve their own problems by guiding them until they are fully ready to tackle their own challenges. It is the best thing that we can do for them. Later on, you will feel relief raising a child who is capable to think for himself/herself.


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