Sometimes the problem is that your child’s way of reacting is habitually self-defeating.
Without realizing it, your child may be generating reactions from peers which are opposite to what they desired.
For example, a shy child might decide to approach groups and make jokes to win friends. Those peers might not be accepting of their approach.
It can be tough for a child to handle and understand the reasons for rejection or disappointment.
They can be overwhelmed by intense feelings when situations end poorly. Handling disappointment is not always their forte; they are not always the most patient, nor are they able to reflect on what they can do better next time.
The good news is that they want to improve, soak up new experiences, and seek your approval when they do something well. You can leverage their desire to please to help them when they are down.
Your child will learn how to communicate better.
Right now, they may not have the vocabulary or the understanding of what’s going on; but, as I suggested, children are like sponges, eager to learn and soak up new information.
Teaching them the right words and explaining how their thoughts and feelings affect their behavior can be encouraging.
Your child will learn to come to you, the parent, for support when obstacles are too big to handle. More importantly, they will be able to manage their feelings better.
They’ll perform better when they understand and process their emotions.
Your child will discover how to manage strong feelings and gain perspective for future situations.
Just like falling off a bike hurts, emotional challenges can be just as difficult. You want your child to get back up and learn from mistakes after they experience setbacks..
When Sophia*, a five-year-old girl, first came to see me, she was very quiet and hid behind her mother, letting her do all the talking.
After getting a little history from her mother, I learned she did not have many friends at school and often avoided going, claiming stomach aches and other ailments.
I needed to earn her trust before delving into these difficulties which were painful for her.
During our first couple of sessions, we role-played challenges that “other” kids might face, such as worrying about who to play with on the playground and working with classmates. Indirectly, we spoke about these situations, but I did not address her recent challenges yet.
Little by little, I gained her trust, and she started to answer my questions as they came up through play. Themes arose, such as fear of humiliation and stage fright. As she spoke more and more, in her own way, without realizing it, she became much more communicative.
Now she was ready for the next steps. I helped Sophia learn the language of anxiety, including fears and worries.
A breakthrough happened when she was able to apply them to herself and understand how they were holding her back. After she owned her feelings, we could figure out how to manage these strong emotions and share how she felt with her parents.
We also spoke about the differences between being a leader and a follower, and how she could do both in different situations.
Most importantly, she learned to be a problem-solver, owned the challenges she experienced instead of running away from them, and practiced implementing the techniques she learned outside of our sessions together.
Character development, imaginative or pretend play, storytelling, or drawing are great ways to give your child distance from their feelings and helps them share in a positive way.