Send anyone this way to read along, but for permission to reprint, please contact Gail.
© Gail Underwood Parker

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Focus on Fostering: 4 Magic Words

Four simple words, but they often can start turning a situation around with almost magical power. I can't claim this idea as my own.  It developed out of a long ago counseling session for one of my more intractable kiddos.  It is a way of injecting calm. It allows you to continue to comfort or calm a child while waiting for an opportunity to help them find a solution.  Without taking over it lets a child know there are possibilities.  It is also a way of sneaking in some advice without it coming across as such. 

1-- Child X is ranting and raving about situation Y, or sobbing and wailing, or whining and complaining, or any number of other annoying reactions.  I say very calmly.... "I have an idea." That's all.  

2--  I wait. I do NOT continue, going on to explain my idea.  I wait.

3-- If the child continues without notice, I wait for a mini-pause and slip in a quiet... "Would you like to hear my idea?"

4-- I wait. I do not go on to offer my idea until a] the child can listen and b] the child indicates they want to hear it. 

5A- When they finish, sniffle, and ask... I share my idea for a solution.  "I was thinking that maybe you could think about...."  I always present it as an option they can consider along with their ideas. Sometimes they choose to ignore my idea and go with one of their own.  That's ok.  It theirs works...fine.  If not, they can try mine or another.  The idea is to have them consider options and learn eventually to solve problems themselves. 
5B- If they never ask [and sometimes they don't] I continue to comfort them or help them calm down. At some point before I leave I congratulate them on settling down and say something like... when you think about this later, if you decide you want to hear that idea I had, just let me know. Then I again praise them if they have turned the situation/behavior around.  
5C- If they don't calm down, or if they continue to escalate I suggest that they may need to go to a calm, safe place until they can be calm around other people.

If and when things are calm and there can be a calm discussion, I have been known to do the "I have an idea" etc. cycle up to two times to get in two possibilities.  I never go past two.  Also, I almost never go on to a second idea unless I have gotten the child to come up with an idea also. 

Try this!  I love the subtle way it allows the child to feel in control of the choices while still remaining open to hearing other people's ideas.  It also conveys a subtle confidence that you believe they can find or choose a successful solution. I've had it work with kids as young as two and as old as 22. I sometimes wish I could teach it to some of my adult friends! Let us know how it works when you have tried it a few times.  [And let us know what ages you have tried it with.] 

Image credits:,,

No comments:

Post a Comment