A few weeks ago I met with a young Japanese girl and her mom.
I did this because the mother was concerned about her ten year old daughter being very passive and withdrawn. Mom thinks this is why she isn’t getting her homework done. For the mom, getting the homework done was a big issue.
I sensed the daughter was very apprehensive about being “made” to come to my home office so after listening to the mother I said, that’s normal, let’s have a snack and play some cards. I noticed the daughter sit up more and become engaged a little.
During snacks and cards I started asking simple questions to get the daughter used to talking with me and playing catch ball mentally. I did this until she felt very safe and comfortable. This is all I wanted to do for her.
Children feel safe when they know you are not going to judge them, tell them what to do or try to trick them into feeling or thinking something they don’t own.
Once I relaxed the daughter I started asking the mother about what kind of conversations go on in the home in front of her daughter? After getting her to open up she told me “most of the conversations are about how her and her husband are not very happy living where they are and how they want to move around some more”. To which I responded, “do you think those conversations support your daughter feeling stable and safe to focus in the now which is what’s needed to be engaged and get things done?” The mother looked at me like she just solved the greatest mystery ever.
I told the mom who am I to tell you what conversations to have? That’s not my job but I do know what children need. One of their biggest needs is to feel safe and secure. So I suggested it’s fine to talk about moving. But don’t end there. Try adding the following so the conversation ends with something solid… “While we’re here, we’re going to do our best in the now because that’s part of being strong and responsible.” Mom totally agreed.
If you are not familiar with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs check it out and you’ll see that “Safety” is very important to us. For children, even more important.
What’s the take away for you in the above story? Not sure but I hope you understand how powerful of an influence your child’s environment has on shaping their mindset. Especially the conversations they hear at home and trust me, they have super ears and don’t miss anything!