These days more and more parents are working outside, leaving their children either to themselves or in the custody of other people. Hence, it is imperative that parents (and I mean both father and mother) help their children in interpreting their experiences in school.

By Dr. S. Chona (Contributor)

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Published: Tue 3 Feb 2004, 1:24 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 12:34 AM

From nursery onwards children get keenly interested in knowing about your childhood. They may often ask, 'Tell me about your school days'.

I'm sure parents enjoy reminiscing about their childhood days. Relaxed conversations are the best way to hear about the highlights of your child's day, the school work, minor frustrations or how another child got into trouble.

If you and your children are in the habit of talking, then they are more likely to open up without too much prompting.

Let them talk first

It is a lot simpler if children tell you what is on their mind. But sometimes a minor trouble may suddenly feel unbearable to a child. Like you’re breaking an argument with a sibling or telling one of them off for

something that is really a fair cop. Your child shouts, 'It's not fair, I've had a hard day!' and bursts into tears. Or else, she starts to talk about a worry just before going to bed or even gets up to talk about it late in at night.

You need to listen to the trouble and offer a sympathetic ear, with any practical help you can suggest. It is important to take your child's feelings seriously and leave her confident that you do care

about what happens to her. You can still say that, in your opinion that was not a good enough reason for hitting her brother round the head.

Give them Time

For different reasons children sometimes do not say anything at all.

You know your child more than any one else, so let your experience be your guide.

Some children go silent and some become distressed at events that wouldn't normally upset them.

Some children vent their emotions on siblings. If children are nursing a really weighty problem they may go off food or sleep fit-fully.

You may have to broach the subject in a private moment with your child.

You can start by saying, 'I'm beginning to think that you're worried about something. Are you?'

If your child is not forthcoming, don't insist. Just say something like, 'Well you know I'm here if you want to talk', but make sure that you are available.

Small could be big

It is hard to say what bothers children. For instance all children dislike being bullied but then they all have different test limits. It is, therefore, important that you do not brush aside your child's concern, even if it seems minor. If it matters to her, then she deserves to be taken seriously. Giving your child your undivided

attention as you talk over her concern does not mean that you spend ages and ages. Sometimes just a short conversation is appropriate.

Listening helps

Parents at times feel bad that they cannot simply take away situations that are upsetting their children. A lot of the troubles that children encounter are childhood versions of the people problems that adults continue to face in the grown up world.

You can help by offering a sympathetic ear. Sometimes children do not expect you to set things right. Sometimes having a talk can help your child cope with a situation or to see another perspective.

Remember to:

* Listen carefully and patiently. Don't assume too much.

* Ask open-ended questions, like: 'What happened when you told the teacher about it?'

* It often helps to summarise in your own words what your child has just told you to make sure you have understood correctly.

What you can do...

Quite often there will not be a sure-fire solution to the frustrations or dilemmas of your children. You need to provide options. Sometimes, this means approaching the situation from another angle. Your child may need to focus on what he can do rather than on trying to change how another child behaves.

Focus on the future, never mind how things have gone up until the present? For instance, the pencil that Rani broke is gone and perhaps she will never apologise. Your child may just need to let that go and stop trying to make Rani appear sorry. For the future you can

strengthen her in the belief that nobody has to lend possessions to people who cannot be trusted. Your child can tell Rani, 'No, you can't borrow it. I don't lend to people who break things'.

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