Empathy is so powerful with kids.

My Brent was always in trouble at school, and always thought the teachers hated him, and sometimes he was right about that. He wasn’t well loved by the staff.

I learned pretty fast that the best way to settle him down was to really make it plain that I understood him and felt his pain. First, I had to really listen to him without interrupting. No advice. No woulda, coulda, shoulda.

Then tell him I was sorry he felt so bad, and that I’d often felt like that in school. If he was receptive, I might tell him a quick story about something that had happened to me, careful to make sure he didn’t take that as me dismissing his own story.

Then, after we were both calm and receptive, we’d be in a better place to talk about what had happened and to search for possible solutions.

Not saying it always worked, but he didn’t get expelled, so it wasn’t a total failure. ;-)

Writer. Runner. Marine. Airman. Former LGBTQ and HIV activist. Former ActUpNY and Queer Nation. Polyglot. Middle-aged, uppity faggot. jamesfinnwrites@gmail.com

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