Helping a Child Who is Having a Hard Time

A seven year old girl, Kayla, had just moved and was going to a new school where there was an overabundance of boys in her class. She was a middle sibling and usually much quieter than her older sister and younger brother.

During the second week of school Kayla began some atypical behavior and started becoming easily upset and frustrated when things didn’t go her way.

Unfortunately Mom and Dad’s work in their paying jobs and at home kept them very busy and they found themselves yelling more often as Kayla remained uncommunicative and temperamental. They knew that the stress stemming from the relocation and their little one’s less than ideal classroom setting was the cause of the problem but couldn’t figure out how to help.

Realizing that Kayla was surrounded by talkative siblings, her parent’s impatience and the details of the overwhelming transition her mother decided to see if offering Kayla a little more “space” and less stress would help. Here are the things she tried:

1. Mom set aside at least a half hour of uninterrupted time alone with Kayla for a few successive weeks.

2. She tried hard to talk less than Kayla when they were together during this time. (hard to do with a quiet child)

3. When Kayla did speak she let her finish her thought before responding, even if she disagreed with Kayla’s point of view.

4. After Kayla spoke Mom would slowly count to ten before offering her advice or opinion.

Although the problems Kayla was confronting were not easy to resolve, spending regular time with her Mom with this set of guidelines helped her feel less frustrated and anxious about the changes in her life. She got to see that her mother noticed the real problems she was facing, was willing to set aside time for her and wanted to hear everything she had to say even if it was unclear or quietly communicated. After a few weeks of regular time together Kayla’s outbursts were less frequent and she was more able to go off to school with greater confidence. She was also able to look at her new home with a more hopeful perspective.