Last week we talked about emotional maturity and what an important factor it is when caring for diabetes. Now let's talk about how to help a child develop that maturity. The next time your child struggling to make a decision, try having a conversation--but do the listening part first, letting your child talk through thoughts and fears. Here’s the kicker: don’t give advice.
I’ll tell you right now: this will be hard. Children have much to learn, and you want'll want to give every answer you can--especially when not giving the answer could result in a painful and tedious learning process. It’s so difficult not to say, “You’re scared to give a shot in front of people at lunch time? Your real friends don’t care!” Or “Just go to the nurse’s office and avoid it all together!”
But don’t do it. Why not? Self-efficacy can’t happen without your child processing their feelings and thoughts themselves. When you tell a child the answer, you deprive them the experience of figuring it out. More than that, you take away their experience of knowing that they can figure it out.
Of course, sometimes you will answer their questions before they do. But when you can sit back (just a bit), you’re empowering your child to really ponder and research the answers. They often have solutions you wouldn’t even think of: “I’ll get Jill and Sara to stand around me as human shields for privacy.”
How many of us have had to learn our lessons the hard way? Even when our parents told us so, we still had to do that stupid thing. It is so helpful for children (and, ahem, most of us) when someone can listen and work through processes in conversation with them. Focus on giving your child a sense of ownership by letting them lead problem solving. This helps them feel that you respect and have confidence in them, which is a huge building block for self-efficacy. If you believe your child can do it, you’ll make it easier for them to believe they can, too.
Need some extra support? Check out the "How To Talk So Kids Will Listen" for Parents of Kids with Diabetes Workshop or get in touch today.