Monday, April 2, 2012

How to help kids be responsible

Children are naturally egocentric so it stands to reason why they don't see the value
in expressing compassion to another when their budding personalities have caused
another to feel hurt.

It is hard for kids to say "I'm sorry" and feel what that means, WITHOUT making
themselves feel like they are "bad".

That is the challenge here. We want our kids to take responsibility but we don't
want to make them feel like losers because they made a mistake or could not handle
their frustration in the heat of the moment.

Forcing them to say "I'm sorry" will get the words out but it will do very little
to teach true empathy. So here are some positive solutions for everyday life.

Find out what is driving the problem that the child seems to be having,
(i.e., trouble sharing , being mean to sibling, etc.) Determine what your
child seems to be needing in the moment and doesn't  have the skill to get
appropriately. What emotional need is behind the behavior driving your
child to behave in this way?

Address your child's concern and help her see how her behavior impacts
the people in her world:

Parent:  "I can see that you were arguing with your brother about that toy,
and he walked away crying, what's going on?"

Child: "He won't share anything, ever."

Parent: "So you are saying that Tommy won't share anything, ever with you,
did I get that right?"

Child: Yes

Parent: " I can see how upsetting that can be for you, it's no fun to not get
to play with toys you want to play with is it?"
( avoid the urge to tell her/him what to do at this point just see from your child's perspective)

Child: Nods in agreement

Parent: When you were angry and yelled at Tommy,
how do you think that made him feel?

Child: Sad, I guess

Parent: Yes, I get that too. I was wondering, do you have any idea how both of
you can make a plan that works so you both get to share all the toys ?

As you work with your child to find creative ways to solve the problem, notice
your child's energy shift as you focus on the positive aspects of the new plan.
If another sibling was involved invite him or her to join in on the problem solving.
Once you've all agreed to a plan that is realistic and works for all members then
you can address the responsibility part.

Parent: Now that we have a great plan, how could you have done things differently
this morning so that Tommy would not have felt hurt?

Child: I could have.......

Parent: Yes I think that would work really well. What do you think you can do now
that would make both of you feel better about what happened? Your words and
your actions are so powerful. How can you be powerful and show Tommy
that you care?

By first addressing what drove the upset  you are validating how your child is
feeling, NOT agreeing with the behavior, just showing that you "get it".

Then, as you problem solve, your focus shifts to what CAN be done -
it shifts to what you both want instead of feeding the energy of the reaction itself.

When you get some solutions that are realistic and do-able, then you re-direct
to taking responsibility. Your child is now much calmer and feels like he has been
heard - this makes it alot easier for him or her to listen to you.

You are helping your child see how powerful he is in the world with his thoughts,
words and actions. As this becomes a habit in your family, your child will naturally
gravitate towards this way of being and thinking. You also help him to "clean up"
by focussing on how he can make amends in a way that does not shame, blame
or attack his self esteem.

Through a space of love you teach empathy and how to problem solve using the
heart and the mind together. This process does not take alot of time when you
get used to it and imagine how much time you will save in the long run when
your child gets the hang of it!

With love and light,

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