It's About Them

Young People … Our Greatest Resource

Helping a Troubled Child Self-soothe (Part Three)

The information in this serial posting comes from psychologist Dr. James Sutton’s current work-in-progress, The Changing Behavior Book: a fresh approach to the difficult child. One of the chapters is on teaching troubled youngsters the skills of soothing themselves in times of difficulty. To read Dr. Sutton’s comments on this new book (which will also be available in e-book format), including a description of its 20 chapters, click here


Helping a Troubled Child Self-soothe (Part Three)

Make a Soothing “Appointment”

Good school counselors know there’s a thin line between being an emotional resource to a child and being a too-available crutch. (Therapists have the same concerns with adult patients.) The “fix” for the too-available problem is for the counselor to offer incentive, praise and reinforcement to a youngster for NOT coming to them between scheduled visits.

When the child or adolescent is encouraged to “save up” their troubles and bring them to the regularly scheduled appointment, they are stresing self-soothing. The counselor is encouraging that youngster to make an attempt to get through an uncomfortable situation as best they can on their own steam, then share about it later.

Of course, it’s important for the counselor to encourage the youngster to continue to use and expand this skill.

Parents and caregivers can accomplish much the same thing. It’s critical, however, that a specific and predetermined time, the “appointment,” be established for sharing. If this isn’t done, the whole process comes across sounding like, “Just deal with it and don’t bother me about it … EVER!”

Keep the appointments.

Watch for Helping a Troubled Child Self-soothe (Part Four): Address the Physical Cues


Dr. James D. Sutton, Psychologist


August 11, 2008 - Posted by | Counselors, Difficult Child, Educators, family, Parents, Self-esteem | , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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