Making space starts with getting your own emotions and reactions under control so that your child isn’t competing with you to be heard. In addition, a too-quick reaction from you may reshape the experience before it has a chance to register with the child. For example, if you say, “That didn’t hurt, did it?” when the child falls, there’s no space for the child to acknowledge fear, surprise, or anything else he or she might feel.
It’s up to the adult to make room for the child to react, express, recover and re-balance. Adults can stop talking and slow the pace of activity. Children rarely have that power.
Making that space can be hard to do when you are tired, angry or overwhelmed. When you are able to calm down, offer the opportunity to be heard. This helps to deepen your relationship, even if the child declines. “You wanted to tell me what happened today, but I was too busy to listen. I have time now, if you’d like to tell me.”
Delay your urge to “fix it” (“Those girls aren’t your friends. Stay away from them.”) or to offer advice that would be insulting if someone said it to you (“You need to grow up.” or
“Forget about dating, concentrate on your job.”) Give the child a chance to gain a sense of mastery by trying out his own solutions.
Read the 20-page series “Helping Children Cope…” which includes this page. Download the free PDF to read, print, and distribute.