Understanding Your Child

Understanding Your Child | It's frustrating to feel you don't understand your child. Despite your efforts you can find yourself fuming | Ben Jackson | @benjacksoncoach

It’s frustrating to feel you’re not understanding your child. Despite your efforts you can find yourself fuming.

Is There Another Way?

This will happen to every parent at some time. Bold statement? I don’t care. It’s the truth. At some point you’ll go a little crazy with your darling little one because understanding your child can be at times very difficult especially when they don’t seem to understand you.

How did it get this crazy? When did – in your mind – the simplest request or instruction get so lost? These are those moments when you just stare at your child and internally asking WTAF!?

This is an updated article from a previous post. You can read the original post here

Pausing For a Moment

Let’s also acknowledge that there are times when your child will be strong willed and will seek to push boundaries. This will happen, and if you want some suggestions on how to manage that you can read all about how to persuade your child. What I’m looking to do here is bring to your attention your actions and behaviours. And to see whether we can amend those, thereby getting a different response from and better understanding of your child.

How Clear Are You? Really.

You’ve spent years developing your ability to react automatically to so many situations or requests. So much so they are no longer conscious response. You just get on and do. This thinking is so embedded in our minds that even explaining them can take a while. This is not the case, as you can imagine, for your child. Let me illustrate what I mean.

A Teacher’s Tale

A friend shared an exercise he’d recently used when teaching English in a school in Zambia. He wanted to highlight to the students how much information we delete when we explain something. How much we assume we’ve communicated or made clear.

He began the exercise by asking the students to imagine an alien had arrived in the school. Getting the students into small groups, he gave each group the same task: to write instructions for the alien about how to put on a shoe.

Posing as the alien, he sat in the middle of the classroom and each group would come forward and give their instructions. All he had to do was follow what they told him.

This may seem particular simple and possibly easy, however it will highlight the impact our assumptions can have.

Your Child and Giving Instructions

The first instruction came, “Put the shoe on your foot”. So he put the shoe on top of his foot.

They changed the instruction, “Undo the laces”. So he unthreaded all the laces.

“Put the shoe on the left foot”. But not knowing which was right from left, it had to be explained in a different way.

The instruction that achieved the task was this: choose one foot, curl the toes slightly, and slip the toes into the space below the laces. Push the foot forward until the heel can sit inside the shoe.

He wanted the students to notice that sometimes it us who need to adjust our communication rather become frustrated that our instructions aren’t followed.

What This Means for You

Bringing this back to my opening point, I’m inviting you to consider the benefit of checking what you assume your child knows. Perhaps they don’t understand. We need to ask them to hear whether they understood what we are expecting from them.

You might be surprised how much they don’t know and how much you’ve assumed they do. It’ll bring about a reevaluation of what you’re saying, are you really being as clear as you think you are. Taking these moments to do this will significantly help your child, but also your ability to manage your own state and delay that frustration kicking in.

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About the Author

Ben Jackson is a registered counsellor, coach, and lecturer with nearly 10 years of professional experience. He helps clients with stress and anxiety, anger management, self esteem, confidence, and depression.

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