Simple Coach Your Child

Empathize with him.

Feel his feelings and go to them with understanding and kind words, like:

“I can see this really bothers you”
“How do you feel about it?”
“It really hurts, doesn’t it?”

Knowing you understand and appreciate what he’s going through, helps him feel better.

Ask, “How would you like to solve it?”

After you’ve taken care of his feelings and when you’re sure he’s ready to think about solutions, show your belief in him. Instead of you giving a bunch of suggestions, ask for his. This helps him become his own problem solver.

Do your best to control any tendency to jump in. Believing in your child’s ability strengthens him and your relationship.


Use your third ear. That’s the ear that hears what’s underneath the thoughts and feelings. Listen for what he isn’t saying. Appreciate his good ideas too.

Let’s say he answers, “I could tell my teacher the truth.”

“Good, anything else?” you ask.

If he says, “No,” then go on to Step 5.

Make a suggestion.

Because you’ve listened, cared about his feelings, and heard his solution, he’s more likely to accept your ideas.

You might mention, “You could ask your teacher to let you retake the test.”

Let’s say he agrees but wants you to go with him. Your answer will depend on his age. If you think he’s mature enough to handle it by himself say, “Let’s see how you do, first.” Why? If it works out well, he’ll feel more confident.

Encourage your child to act.

With your child, role-play ways he can talk with his teacher. When he feels comfortable and is ready, encourage him to do it.

Assure him that you’ll check back to see how it went. You might also say, “I believe in you.”