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How to Be Your Child's Confidant - 7 Easy Steps + YouTube
By Jean Tracy, MSS
Your child needs you to be his confidant. He needs to be able to share his deepest thoughts and feelings with you. Why? Because thoughts rule! Coupled with feelings, thoughts drive kids to act.
Today I'll share a story about a fourteen-year-old who shot his classmates, how thoughts rule, and 7 easy steps to keeping your kids close. You'll find a short video below.
In a nearby city, a popular fourteen-year-old student came to the school cafeteria, shot 5 kids (four died) then shot and killed himself. One of his tweets said, "I hate that I can't live without you." The investigation is ongoing.
There is so much we don't know about this boy. The police are studying his online chats. We can guess what he was thinking but how do we really know? He didn't talk about the complexity of his thoughts.
Thoughts Running Wild
When black thoughts rule, we spend lots of time dwelling on them. Often we don't realize what we're doing. When we try to focus on something else, the dark thoughts creep in and take over. We try to smile and look as if everything's fine. We cover up.
Parents, you can't untwist your child's thoughts if you don't know what they are. People, including kids, think constantly. Troubled thoughts can create well-worn paths filled with dark feelings. When kids fill their minds with painful, angry, or depressing ideas they may act on them. The boy, who shot 5 kids, acted.
7 Easy Steps to Becoming Your Child's Confidant
Tune into your kid's feelings. Listen more than talk. Here's an example:
Let's say your son's upset because his teacher thought he cheated on an exam. She gave him a big red zero. He tells you about it. Here's how you can become his confidant.
1. Listen to the problem.
Stop! Look! Listen! Make time for your child. Give him your eyes and your ears. Say, “Tell me more.”
2. Empathize with him.
Feel his feelings and go to them with understanding and kind words, like:
“I can see this really bothers you.”
“How do you feel about it?”
“It really hurts, doesn't it?”
Knowing you understand and appreciate what he's going through, helps him feel better.
3. Ask, “How would you like to solve it?”
After you've taken care of his feelings and when you're sure he's ready to think about solutions, show your belief in him. Instead of you giving a bunch of suggestions, ask for his. This helps him become his own problem solver. Do your best to control your tendency to jump in. Believing in your child's ability strengthens him and your relationship.
Use your third ear. That's the ear that hears what's underneath the thoughts and feelings. Listen for what he isn't saying. Appreciate his good ideas too.
Let's say he answers, “I could tell my teacher the truth.”
“Anything else?” you ask.
“No,” he replies.
Go on to Step 5.
5. Make a suggestion.
Because you've listened, cared about his feelings, and heard his solution, he's more likely to accept your ideas. You might mention, “You could ask your teacher to let you retake the test.”
Let's say he agrees but wants you to go with him. Your answer will depend on his age. If you think he's mature enough to handle it by himself say, “Let's see how you do, first.” Why? If it works out well, he'll feel more confident.
6. Encourage your child to act.
With your child, role-play ways he can talk with his teacher. When he feels comfortable and is ready, encourage him to do it. Assure him that you'll check back to see how it went. You might also say, “I believe in you.”
7. Check back to find out the results.
Ask, “How did it go?”
Hopefully, he'll say, “Great!”
Congratulate him with smiles, hugs, and words like, “I knew you could do it.”
Of course, if it didn't go well, talk with his teacher. You might learn something you didn't know.
We will never know all the thoughts and pain that went into the fourteen-year-old's decision to kill, injure his friends, and then shoot himself. We do know that his family and the families of the victims are suffering terribly. We are not blaming. We are sharing a way for your child to talk about his problems with you.
Being your child's confidant is vital. Your attention, smiles, encouragement, and support mean a lot to creating healthy thoughts, feelings, and actions. Practice the 7 easy steps to becoming your child's confidant. It will enrich you both.
The short video below is entitled “Becoming Your Child's Confident” It includes the problem to solve with 7 easy steps.
Here's the Short Video Becoming Your Child's Confidant
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