Halloween Costumes, Part 2 (Please also read Part 1)

Another Halloween has come and gone. Are children’s costumes put away for next year or designated for the next garage sale? Or, are your children still dressing up for fun?

As I wrote in Tuesday’s post, imagining who you are on Halloween can be harmless. Imagining daily can be stressful. Sad. Unfulfilling. Unwise. Depressing. Defeating. Confusing. Conflicting.

What can we do if children want to be who they are not (e.g., outgoing, coordinated, fast at math), but they don’t seem willing to invest to truly change? Let’s ask them why and/or observe for what their reasons may be. Then we can talk with them.

Are they frustrated because what they want to change can’t be changed? If so, love them through an attitude change. Be honest and help them see the permanence of the issue while you make sure they can still have a positive view of themselves. For example, I remain grateful that my parents helped me change my attitude toward my height. They intervened and enrolled me in tap dance classes so I’d become coordinated and comfortable. What can you do – not just say – that will help?

I hear often from children that their parents say things like, “I’m sure you’ll have a good year in math.” Children look at me in disbelief and ask, “What do they think changed? Can’t they just accept me for who I am?” Heartbreak. These comments create a lack of honesty and trust. I’m sure parents mean well and think they’re encouraging their children to keep trying. The opposite may occur.

Are they paralyzed because other attempts to change failed? How can you better support them this time? What can you do – not just say – that will help?

Have they not identified what beliefs, skills, attitudes, and/or strategies they need in order to change? Do they need your help getting specific? Many times, that’s the case. When a child proclaims, “I just want to be different!” or “I just want to be better!” they often need help with particulars. What do they need to stop AND what do they need to start? Both questions need to be answered. What can you do – not just say – that will help?

Listening, talking, listening, talking, listening, talking … do it often, with honesty and compassion, and attitude changes toward change may result.