Summer vacation was over and the kids had just returned to school, starting their new session. It was still the first week in their new grades. One particular mother was having trouble putting the children onto an earlier bedtime schedule. Marium, her 9 nine-year-old would especially not co-operate. No matter what mum said and did, Marium would not just budge. Exasperated, mum requested her husband to take over before she ended up in an ugly tussle with their daughter. Following is the conversation between father and daughter:
Dad: “Marium, sweetheart, I want to talk to you. Mum is saying you are not co-operating much. Is something the matter? It seems like something is eating you.”
Marium: “I’ve got a lot of worries!”
Dad: “Really, well let me hear them all. Let’s talk in your room.”
Dad and Marium head to Marium’s room. Twenty minutes later dad comes out of the room smirking to himself.
A bewildered mum asks: “What happened?”
Dad: “Nothing. I put her to bed.”
Mum: “Just like that?”
Dad: “I wrote down her worries.”
Dad: “And I read them back to her.”
Mum: “Then what happened?”
Dad: “I promised her that I will help her tackle her issues on the weekend. She put her list under her pillow, changed into her night suit and went to bed.”
The next morning when mum was changing Marium’s bedsheets, her list fell to the floor. Here’s what it said:
What’s worrying Marium?
- Messy closet and bedroom. She has to share her room with her younger sister Alyah who is a 4-year-old, not willing to put any stuff back in its place.
- Great deal of work at school and plenty of thick books to carry.
- Having trouble understanding the new Math chapter.
- Needs more spending allowance for school snacks as prices have hiked since past term.
- Lost brand new pencil case in school.
- Some younger kids in her school bus are naughty and irritating.
- Has no decent pair of sandals to wear to her best friend’s upcoming party.
Mum smiled as she read the note. She realized that as grownups we assume that only we have real troubles in life. It’s easy to forget that children can have them too. And just like us, they need someone to listen and take their worries seriously. For an adult they may sound childish and petty. But for a child they mean the world: a world they live in. The worst thing that an adult can do is dismiss or ridicule a child’s sentiments, terming them as senseless or wrong. As they say, you do not teach swimming to a drowning person. When listening to worries, just hear them out. Discussions can ensue at a later time. By then, some issues have already taken care of themselves and some are more open to be talked about.
“Children need to hear an unqualified acceptance of their emotions of the moment. A response that conveys full understanding without reservation or judgment empowers young people and grants them the courage to begin to deal with their problems.” (Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish)
Adapted from “How to talk so kids can learn”