My friend Dr.Brad Reedy describes good therapy or a good therapist as a place where you get to find yourself, and as part of that process, as the messy parts of you come into view, you find that your therapist simply nods their head as if to say, “it’s ok, you’re ok” and “this is part of being human, fallible.” This is true in an ideal sense of any other trusted relationship; teacher, partner, parent. By acknowledging and accepting a child’s feelings and perceptions of their struggles and the parts that feel like failures, a child is more able and willing to see their core gifts and strengths. This only means giving them understanding and a listening ear. It doesn’t mean that you have to agree or disagree with how they see their challenges, only that you hear them, that you get what they are saying. It means not moving too quickly from listening to fixing mode or smoothing out the rough edges by attempting to “put a positive spin” on whatever it is. Reframing can come later, but not first.
When children have struggles in school, do you as a parent want a teacher that’s a gifted technician of educational approaches but with little relationship skills and lacking that accepting and forgiving way? Or would you rather your child have a less skillful technician but blessed with relational excellence and who can give your child that “glance of mercy” that sees all sides of your child and says “you’re ok?”
For my money, why not both?