Raise a Child Who Loves Life

Listen to what he has to say

Hear Her Out

You know how much it stings when you're venting to a friend and she says something like, "Oh, get over it." Kids have the same reaction when we minimize their problems. "Your child can only develop happiness and self-confidence if she feels completely and totally accepted," says Bonnie Harris, author of Confident Parents, Remarkable Kids. "Listen to your child without making any judgments about whether she's right or wrong. Your goal should be to hear her side of the story."

Let's say your daughter comes home from preschool and complains about a classmate who teased her. She might say, "I hate her!" or "I'm never going to be her friend again!" You'd probably say, "Don't talk like that. It's not nice." But that would only make her clam up and force all her unhappy feelings to either stay inside or grow, says Harris. "Instead, you could acknowledge her emotions and say something like, 'Wow, it sounds like she did something that really hurt your feelings.'"

Knowing their parents understand them is a crucial building block of happiness for kids. "When my 2?-year-old, Ariella, is upset, I want her to get as many of the tears out as possible so that we can leave the hurt behind," says Rosie Centeno, of New York City. "I ask her to tell me, or show me, what happened, and I just hold her until she stops crying or talking about it."

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