Seek to understand before solving

A parent came in for therapy with her daughter who had significant depression. As the child described her depressed feelings, her mother said with great concern "Honey, how can you be depressed? Don't you know how beautiful and capable you are?"

At that point the daughter shut down and talked little the rest of the session with her mother present.


I understand the mother's pain of seeing her daughter hurt, but her comment did nothing to convey to her daughter that she understands how she feels. Children in pain want to be understood first before moving to any solutions.

Here would of been a better response. "Honey, I had no idea how hard things have been for you. What has been the hardest part of this for you?"

Do you see the difference? One response shuts down communication while the other invites it.

When talking with your child, refrain from offering suggestions on solving the problem unless your child is asking for that. First seek to draw out your child's feelings through open ended questions that invite learning more about what they are going through.

Sometimes that is all you need to do....