The Difference Collaboration Can Make for Kids

Do you remember Sydney in the article about using Curiosity as a way to engage with a child?

When you as a parent, educator, or professional are trying to help Sydney, it can be challenging to know what to do or where to look for solutions.

One of the biggest things I’ve found that holds people back in life is isolation. If you are attempting to get yourself unstuck on your own, you don’t know how to move forward and everything stops.

If you’re having a struggle with your child, your student or your client and you’re uncertain of what to do, where do you begin?

Most people begin with Google or books and gather information on the issue. It looks like this:

The Isolation Cycle is a bit like a slot machine. Sometimes, you get the outcome you want and sometimes you don’t.

If you can relate to this, I’m guessing when the strategy doesn’t work you tell yourself it’s because you weren’t consistent enough. You may feel frustrated and helpless.

The truth is the reason the strategy failed is because:

  1. The information you found isn’t personalized to your situation and your child/client or student.
  2. There’s no one to ask questions when you get stuck.
  3. There’s no one to encourage you when things get hard.

You may decide to go one step further in your quest. You reach out, engage and share with other parents, educators, or professionals. The Isolation Cycle turns into a Partial Collaboration Cycle and looks like this:  

Partial Collaboration Cycle

With partial collaboration, your outcomes are more likely to be closer to your goal.

No one person can know everything when it comes to caring for kids. If you have a picky eater, I know a few ways to help, but when we loop in a nutritionist or an occupational therapist, now we’re going to get some golden nuggets of wisdom.

Sharing experiences and asking questions of someone who’s been through something similar gives you the benefit of having personalized guidance.  

While you’ve added this step of collaborating with other adults on possible solutions, there is still a crucial step missing:

Collaborating with your child/student or client.

When you don’t include your child in the plan then these three things happen:

  1. You can be missing vital information about what the child is experiencing.
  2. You’re missing an opportunity to engage the child in problem solving so they can build their skills.
  3. By taking control, you’re inadvertently decreasing the child’s motivation to participate. It’s human nature when anyone feels backed into a corner, they’re more likely to resist than comply.  

Full Collaboration Cycle

In the Full Collaboration Cycle, you gather information to cover any knowledge gaps you may have. You collaborate with others who have had similar experiences and share stories, experiences and ideas. You connect with your child and co-create a plan with them.

The odds of getting a desirable result for both you and the child are much higher.  

This is an absolute game changer.

When you collaborate with kids, get curious and ask them questions, you create a different relationship. A relationship based on connection and not control. A relationship where kids know you’re there with them through the hard stuff and not against them.

Collaboration isn’t weakness or giving in. Negotiating isn’t being manipulated. Allowing space for your child to, with your support, create their own solutions is a beautiful gift.

What can you do to create more collaboration with your kids?

  • Talk about challenges when things are calm. Not in the moment.
  • Ask what they think, feel and know.
  • Get a sense of their perspective even if you disagree or it makes no sense to you.
  • At an age-appropriate level, engage them in creating possible solutions.

If you would like to create more collaboration with other counselors, parents, educators and professionals who guide kids through big feelings, that’s exactly what’s happening inside our membership community, the Growing Up Confident Collective.  You can learn more here.  

In the next article, I’ll be talking about the third value of the Growing Up Confident Collective: Cozy Community. I’ll also share three strategies that foster belonging and ensure that you’re creating a cozy community in your office, home or classroom.