During the school year, my daughter had a few instances of issues with her friends. Luckily, she often shared them with me. Anytime that happened, I had my own initial thoughts, but I focused on responding to what I heard her say, rather than leading with my thoughts on the situation.

In order to do this, I was careful not to cut her off while she was telling me what happened. Then, rather than make suggestions based on how I would remedy things, I asked her what she would like from me.

However, I didn’t just ask her an open-ended question that could result in a “nothing” response. Instead, I made sure to follow my question with a set of options:

  • Would you like my advice?
  • Would you like me to talk with the teacher?
  • Would you like me to talk with the parents?
  • Would you like to talk to the teacher?
  • Would you like to talk with the parents?
  • Would you like to talk with the girls?
  • Would you like to make a plan together on how to approach this?

What I was doing in these situations was practicing cognitive empathy. I made sure to put myself in my daughter’s shoes and ask her questions that would help me help her.

In the end, my daughter always prefered to speak with her friends without intervention from me. While I’m glad she went that route, I’m also happy that she felt supported by me and knew I was there to help if she needed it.

Want to learn more about practicing cognitive empathy? Read all about it here.

Image Credit: London Scout