As we enter these summer months, parents may notice their children interacting with their siblings/others more than usual. (Often in unhealthy ways) When is the appropriate time to intervene, and when should you lend a listening ear? Your children are continuously growing and developing who they will become in adulthood. These interactions are (Disclaimer: healthy or not) excellent opportunities for them to develop communication/negotiation skills, self-discipline, patience, confidence, and boundaries with those around them. For example, if a child has difficulty standing up for themselves is observed being bullied by a sibling you can use this experience as a learning opportunity. Pull that child aside and practice with them what standing up for themselves, boundaries, healthy communication, patience and confidence looks like with their sibling, relative or friend. Pretend to be their sibling, relative or friend and guide them through the process. Ask them to replay what happened previously, and to offer suggestions on what they have liked to say or maybe they need to practice restraint because they said too much. Please give them the assignment and encourage them to apply what they have learned with you the next time they are interacting with their sibling, relative of friend. Let them know you will not interject; however, you will be nearby if they need you. As parents, a natural intuition is to protect your child. We also have to back off and use opportunities to teach our children as a part of their emotional and social development. It is also essential to develop these skills in your presence to help guide them through the process. How helpful would this have been to you in childhood? How many of you will heal yourself by practicing this intervention with your children? Wow, little by little, the future is looking so bright!
- Natasha Thomas, LMFT