Dismiss, Ignore, Punish, Rescue, or Coach ?

When I talk with groups of children or individual children, and I ask them if they can talk to their parents about what is troubling them, more often than not the children say that their parents don’t listen to them, they dismiss them, or they lecture them. Unfortunately, kids don’t see their parents as someone they can go to and feel heard and understood. They don’t see their parents as helpful or supportive. Kids tell me what their parents say to them when they try to go to them with a problem – “suck it up princess” or  “build a bridge and get over it”.

When I ask parents “who do you want your child to go to when he or she has a problem?”, they always say “me”. But if you were a child and were told repeatedly “don’t bother me with this now” or “get over it” or “you’ll be fine” would you go back for more?

I know that parents don’t do this on purpose. Every parent wants the best for their child. More often than not, we don’t listen to our kids because their big emotions are too much for us to hear. So we try to jolly them up, redirect them away from the pain, push them to see the brighter side. We think that if our children are having an emotion then it’s our job to toughen them up. But feeling heard and understood is one of the most precious things a human can experience, especially when it’s coming from the most important people in your lives – your parents or carers. .

All feelings are OK (yes, even anger). It’s what we do with our feelings that matters. In this next video, Dr Becky Bailey discusses the reasons why we need to learn to listen to our kids, and demonstrates (rather enthusiastically) how we ignore, dismiss, punish, save, and finally coach our kids when they have a problem. Which one would you prefer if you were the child? And note what the child learns in each scenario.




Coaching your child through his or her emotions can be really tricky to do. We need to get our own feelings out of the way before we can help our children to process theirs.

stop .

After you have stopped to check in with yourself and taken some deep breaths, you are in a better place to make a decision about how you will respond to your child…

– Will I choose to go with my initial reaction (dismiss, ignore, punish, save)?   OR

– Will I choose to support, encourage, guide, and nurture my child? .


Narelle Smith


Categories: Managing Emotions


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