Jane Nelsen, who wrote the book on Positive Discipline, is always reminding parents that we help our kids most when we teach them to problem solve — an invaluable life-long skill. Here’s how she suggests parents can best support their kids when they hear this painful comment:

“You can say, ‘Oh, I remember how bad I felt when that happened to me.’ We need to allow kids to share their feelings without jumping in to fix it. We want to protect our kids from every bad thing, but nobody escapes it. We need to have faith in our children with these experiences. Showing empathy, validating feelings, and letting them sit with it is so important. Have faith in your child to have these negative experiences in life; you can’t protect them from all of them.

“I’ll give you an example of one thing I did do: someone teased my daughter about her curly hair. I asked, ‘Do you know other kids who get teased?’ She thought about it and said, ‘Yes.’ I asked, ‘What does everybody else get teased about?’ One was teased for her big teeth, another for something else, another for something else. It was so helpful to have her realize this. Then I could ask, ‘Now that you know how it feels, how do you think it feels for other people?’ I might have even asked her, ‘Have you ever participated in that, hurting others? Do you know how that feels? Can you think about whether you want to participate in teasing others?’ It wasn’t dismissing her. It was helping her realize what other people are feeling.”

Here’s how 4 other parenting experts say to respond…


Madeline Levine
“Don’t jump in too fast!” warns Madeline Levine, author of Teach Your Children Well. Instead, take this approach so your child learns to navigate friendships. Format: Video (1:33)

Christine Carter
Parenting expert and Raising Happiness author Christine Carter says parents shouldn’t rush in to reassure their child. Format: Video (1:56)

Erica Reischer
We desperately want to fix it, says parent coach and psychologist Erica Reischer, but take care not to hinder your child’s emotional growth. Format: Article

Heidi Allen Garvin
The Mormon Moms founder and mother of three teens advises taking action — and fast. Format: Article

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