Helping Your Child Help Him or Herself

Courtney and SammyThe exact right way to go!

Question (submitted to us by Parental Wisdom):

My 4-year-old is being bossed around by a little girl at school. Though the teachers try and step in when they can, they told me he listens to everything she says. I really want my son to handle this. What can I say to help him deal with this?

*Answer (posted also on

Open-ended conversation is the answer for you. Scrunch up together with your child in a favorite comfortable spot and talk together about lots of things. Whenever you sense it is the exact right time, ask your son to tell you about that particular girl. Pursue this topic in such a way that you find out as much as possible about what is going on from your child’s point of view.  Once you understand that well, you will be in just the right position to formulate your advice. Because you need to get the most information in the least intrusive way, use language that is both understanding and nurturing. Here are some examples.

Tell me more about ….

How did that happen?

Oh, oh, oh, I see.

Uh huh.


Don’t ask any questions that could can end with a yes or no answer and always keep your tone calm and interested. If you start making requests or suggestions before you know the full story, you are likely to meet resistance. When you approach your child from this kind of loving point of view, you should be able to find out exactly what you need to know to successfully guide your son away from this girl’s strong overbearing influence.

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  1. That formula works for so many parent-child communications. Try it when you’re not dealing with major challenges. You get to master the subtleties so when you really need to hone in on an issue, you can do it skillfully and naturally. That makes all the difference!

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