[Continued from here]
What are the opportunities/signs of counseling for parents?
If the child appears:
- Aloof, uninterested/withdrawn
- Unusually reserved
- Seems nervous and afraid
- Shows unusual behaviour or looks disturbed
Even under the above tremendous pressures, each child has a different absorption capacity. As a parent, we need to develop such a bond with them that we can read their unsaid words, silent body language, etc. If we suspect some turmoil, we should be available for him at the cross roads. As the right moment occurs, he may share his miseries with us. We can’t be over inquisitive or nosey- especially if the child is older and a self-driven individual who wants to assess his own developmental capacity. He may share with parents once the trouble is overcome as he reflects back and relieves himself. It is a moment of growth and wisdom for him.
What does it mean to be your kid’s counselor?
- Your children feel comfortable to open their personal matters before you. (They can unload the emotional garbage which might include crying, blaming, accusing, swearing, etc.)
- They feel safe to share their worries and most personal concerns with you. (He needs to feel heard completely with no hurdles, judgments, rebukes, threat of punishment, negative reaction from your side as a parent.)
- They consider you wise and trustworthy and therefore value your advice. (Perceived credibility is the actual credibility.)
- You can easily know when your child is disturbed and need support. (He might withdraw, stop eating, slam doors, look moody, try to be aloof, etc.)
- All of you feel good and relaxed after the session. (The emotional strength of the parent needs to be developed so that he/she doesn’t end up needing a counseling session after hearing out his/her child’s worries.)
The counseling framework for parents
1. Prepare yourself
Do your mental homework before approaching the child. Imagine all possible problems and their causes, the kid’s perception of the problem, expectation of the people around the kid from him, etc.
2. Spare time for a session
Find a peaceful place and choose the best time.
3. Be happy and stay calm
Tend to your own emotional landscape so as not to react before the kid when he is unloading his emotions before you. It is essential to conquer your own mood first.
4. Encourage your child to express his problem
Convey care and warmth through your body language, facial expressions and tone, etc.
5. Listen actively
This means no interruption, no pretend listening while you are multi-tasking, etc.
6. Rephrase what you understand
This is important so that the child’s intention and purpose is understood with clarity and no miscommunication happens.
7. Acknowledge the feelings of your child
Albert Einstein once lamented: “Why is it that nobody understands me, yet everybody likes me.” Taking care of your child is easy. Taking care of your child’s feelings is challenging.
8. Ask about the causes and expectations
Analyze the problem and situation with your child. Don’t offer an immediate solution or suggestion yourself.
9. Give confidence and offer helpful tips
Let the child take a responsible decision himself.
Lastly and most importantly, children will learn best, when they are trusted, valued, owned, encouraged and made comfortable. This does not mean that we surrender to their whims and fancies, let them disown their responsibilities, bend and break the family rules. It certainly means that we treat them with respect and empower them to take value-based decisions in life.
Adapted by Rana Rais Khan from an interactive workshop at L2L Academy Karachi