Caution: Angry Kid!
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is the most widely used evidence - based practice for improving mental health today. CBT utilizes a direct approach to produce fast results. And most importantly, it teaches patients coping skills for dealing with different problems they might encounter in the future.
And this is exactly the type of approach you might want to use in your daily life, and specifically for supporting your children.
The assumption of CBT is that it is one`s thoughts and beliefs about a certain event that are to be dealt with, not the event itself.
Let`s say your child is upset with his friend who did not treat your child well. The upsetting event had happened already, neither you, nor your child can change that. Well, what you can do is to prevent this from happening in the future. But is it realistic to believe that your child will only meet nice and considerate people during his entire life? I guess no! Especially if you live in Paris and deal with les parisiens 😉 It would be preferable, but it is not possible unfortunately. Therefore, what you can target in this case is how your child reacts to the argument.
The type of emotion one usually experiences in such circumstances is anger. Anger is often based on the unmet shoulds: my friends should treat me well all the time, others should like me no matter what, I should be accepted by everyone, etc. Non – satisfaction of the shoulds might lead to further distortive thinking such as: This guy (about the friend) is stupid, He has no respect, etc.
In order to break this downward spiral, you as a parent can challenge those beliefs, by asking the following questions:
A. Do you really treat everyone nicely all the time? Most likely the answer will be “no”. Then:
Does this mean you are stupid?
B. Is there any evidence your friend is stupid/has no respect? I remember he helped you with…
C. Should everyone really treat you well? I know you would like it, and this is ok to want it, but is this truly possible? Why should they? Is it some kind of universal rule that everyone should treat you well?
D. How does it help you to think this way? I see it makes you so upset and even sick, does it help you to put yourself in such a state?
Guide your child to what would be healthy/constructive to think in this case. Usually, the child will come up with something like: that`s just him (friend); he is like that; it`s not his fault, he was tired that day, etc. And the child will healthily accept that some upsetting things might happen and that he does not need to get excessively angry with them.
Dear parents, breath in – breath out and patiently wait until the prefrontal cortex of your child (responsible for the impulse control among others) develops fully… by the age of 25!