When children come home complaining.... Maybe you think it is nice that they are sharing problems, but what if they are simply off-loading and pouring their problems on to you and then not doing enough to help themselves with it? Passing problems is easy... especially to a sympathetic ear who might come up with lots of suggestions of ways to 'fix' life. But being the sounding board to notice inner thoughts and feelings, to explore the perceptions of the problem, that can be a means to encouraging children to have the courage to face and support their own part in them.
The following questions might be worth considering.....
These responses help determine why the sharing is occurring....what the lead up to their 'snap-shot' of the problem was, and their part in it, and even checks to see how motivated they are to think more widely about the issue..... moving them from blame to being someone who reflects and reacts with equilibrium.
Are you telling me to share this difficulty experience or to complain and have me ‘fix’ it?
(explain you cant fix the world only advise)
Can you tell me….and before that….and before that….and before that
(aiming for …..the story to run backwards as in
THEY said or did
Because THEY were feeling
Because I said or did
Because I was feeling….(and so on) this helps children link what has occurred to upset them with what others mightperceive or with their own inner thoughts.
Ok – underneath your anger now are you feeling more
Uneasy (because your reaction was big or not useful)
Unkind (because you have made them the baddie
Unsure (because you know that it could be better)
Uncomfortable (considering that maybe your onw panic could have escalated
If any nervousness or panic was there – what was the worst that could have happened if things went wrong
(then check how real that might be as we all exagerate our fears)
If you had some ‘might be’ thoughts and they made you nervous, what do you think you could have done to be braver
What reaction could lie between getting angry and doing nothing or walking off – can you think of any words that might have helped
If you wanted to give a strong message at that point (not a mean or judging one) what would it say
Did you try several solutions – if not, can you think of more than one way of handling this now you are out of the situation?
What about self soothing – right now if you had to make yourself feel better can you think of anything nice to say to yourself to encourage yourself in this
Now you have thought of all this – are you still feeling exactly the same frustration you felt at the start – or does it give a BIGGER view
Can you think of anything you learnt to use for next time