Mostly what children need to start working through difficulties is to have a parent or a trusted someone really listen. Even when a child works with a clinically sophisticated therapist, no matter what technique or approach is used, the most important part is the listening. Listening in a way that makes it safe for the child to be in distress, to feel badly and to be able to show one’s self, messy parts included. A parent must have a self that’s able to bear their child’s struggles without taking it personally. For a deeper dive into the wisdom of this I highly recommend my friend and colleague Brad Reedy’s work and notably his books, “The Journey of the Heroic Parent” and his latest “The Audacity to Be You”
In my upcoming children’s book “A Light Within My Dyslexia” two characters sit as one of them cries after a tough day in school. Beaver shows us that listening is all we really need. Not advice or even “cheering up.”
“When Beaver sat down next to her, she was crying softly. She was upset about her day in school. She told him about misplacing her homework, losing her place several times during class reading time, and how her teacher assumed she hadn’t studied enough because she only got 9 out of 20 correct on the spelling test…
…Beaver didn’t try and solve her problems. He couldn’t. And he didn’t attempt to say something to cheer her up right away. He’d learned from his own life that when he was feeling down or frustrated about school, he really didn’t want his mom to try and cheer him up. He just wanted her to listen and be there next to him.
So he sat there beside Sherry and nodded his head while she spoke. After a few minutes he gently put his arm around her shoulders and she didn’t seem to mind. They sat in silence for a few minutes, watching the passing birds overhead. They heard the buzz of a few bees. Beaver noticed that the sun was moving lower in the sky and towards the horizon. The air had cooled slightly.
Sherry’s tears dried up and her mood seemed lighter, less sad.”
Please also see my first children’s book, “A Light Within” aimed at helping younger kids through anxiety.