These days children face alot of pressures. These pressures are mostly from schools due to their academics and peers. And lets not try to deny the pressure from parents to keep up with the aforementioned pressures. In such situations, our children can struggle with low self esteem, feel burdened, anxious, worried or even fearful.
What are parents to do?
In such circumstances, parents need to counsel their children. However, to counsel our children we first need to develop ourselves as counselors.
Counseling vs. Mentoring:
Before getting into counseling, it’s important to know that even more above and important of a role for parents is to mentor their children. Mentoring is a life long process and provides children with the tools to overcome life challenges. If children haven’t had solid mentoring (tarbiyyah), then they won’t be able to tackle whatever life throws at them, and will remain disturbed. and will obviously require more counseling.
Points to consider before we counsel our children:
- Does the child feel comfortable confiding in us?
- How do we react when the child confides in us?
- Does the child feel better after talking to us?
- Do he leave confident and is willing to come back and talk to us?
- Do we consider the needs of the child/counselee?
What qualifies a parent as a child’s counselor?
- You realise right away that your child is disturbed
- You deal with the matter discreetly.
- Your child considers you trustworthy and wise enough to seek you for an advice.
- Child feels relaxed after talking to you even though the problem hasn’t been solved as yet.
Practical steps towards becoming a counselor for our children:
Here are seven practical steps towards becoming a counselor for our children:
1.Appear happy: If you exude an aura of positivity and contentment, your child will feel confident and comfortable confiding in you.
2. Quality time: There are three indicators for quality time spent together:
3. Learn to listen: Cousnseling is more of a work of listening and understanding than talking. Hence we not only have to listen, but through our actions have to let the child know that they are being understood. This can be done by turning your whole attention to the child so he knows he is being listened to. Somethings which show that we are actively listening:
- Use of phrases and words like “oh”, “yes”, “really”, “then”, etc to encourage the child to keep talking.
- Facial expressions which are welcoming and don’t show any disdain.
- Positive body language which depicts that the child has our full attention. We should be fully turned towards the child, directly looking at him. Also we should avoid fiddling around with anything .
4. Acknowledge your child’s sentiments: After you have actively listened to your child, rephrase all that has been said. This way the child would know that he has been listened to and also understood.
To love a child is natural, but to understand them we have to make effort.Salman Asif Siddiqui
5. Maintain confidentiality: After a child confides in us, it’s incumbent upon us that we keep their matter confidential. We should avoid telling any family members (including our spouses) whom we think aren’t emotionally or psychologically mature to handle the situation.
6. Don’t judge your child: Even if you are judging somewhere within yourself, never ever voice any sort of negativity infront of the child.
7. Do your homework, prepare your case: Write everything down on a paper:
- The problem along with all the causes.
- All the possible solutions and the pros and cons of each solution.
After we have listened to the child and made him feel understood, that’s where we try to solve the problem by suggesting a solution. As counselors, we can walk the child through possible solution. This way the child can conclude a solution of of his own based on his own understanding of the situaton.
This blog post is based on notes taken from a seminar by Br. Salman Asif Siddiqui of Educational Resource Development Centre (ERDC). ERDC is striving to improve the quality of education in Pakistan through its myriad activities and its skilful and multifaceted team of experts and professionals. You can find them on Facebook, Instagram and Youtube.