We all need simple responses to the everyday questions and
comments from our children. Quick things we can say to
minimize our frustration while simultaneously validating their
experience. Below are five responses that work well in our
All people just want to be heard. They don't always need
to be "right" or "win", they just want someone to validate their
belief system so they know that what they say matters. Even
when my girls are arguing with me about going to bed or watching
another show, I can say, I hear you, and I understand what you
want to do, but it's time for bed. I have no desire to engage
in an argument, and I don't plan on compromising our house rules,
but I do want to acknowledge their words.
does that make you feel?
Yes, the typical therapist response, but hey, it's
helpful. When the girls get their feelings hurt or when they
do something they are proud of, it's important for them to be
conscious of how they feel and know how to label it (sad, happy,
frustrated, worried). Feelings comprehension and self
expression are the keys to asking for what they need, letting go of
what they don't need, and fully embracing who they are.
can I help you?
When my girls come to me with a problem, a frustration, or even
when they are hungry, this is my first question. Instead of
asking a million questions and doing the problem solving, I let
them tell me what they need. Very often they don't really
need help; they just want to share their experience.
your body - it's smart and it knows what to do.
I say this when the girls are tired; when they want to play
outside, but their body is saying rest. When they cut
themselves and they are afraid of the blood, or when they are sick
and they are afraid to throw up. Instead of feeling fear, I
want them to trust that the body knows how to heal and it has the
natural smarts to get well again (and they can sleep, take baths,
or in some cases use medicine to stay comfortable and assist the
do you think?
The girls seek my opinion about homework, what to wear, and what
to do when they are bored. Of course I have an opinion, but
their opinion is just as valuable. I don't want to solve
their problems; I want to teach them to solve their own
problems. I don't want to tell them who to be; I want them to
figure out who they are. It takes practice to think for
yourself, and these are practical opportunities for learning.
Do you have any positive and useful responses? Feel
free to share.
Cathy Adams is a certified parenting coach, yoga instructor and mother to three girls.
See more of Cathy's stories here.
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