Emotional Problems: Just listen
Getting more than you bargained for when you ask "what's wrong?" Every good instructor, coach, youth worker, teacher and anybody else for that matter will have to confront the issue of a child sharing with them some emotional problems.
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If you are any good as a coach, you not only want your students to be good martial artists but you want them to be better people. I know I want my students to learn as many life lessons as possible.
I recognize that you are not their parent but your students will put into practice what you teach them whether you want them to or not. I am always very proud when a parent comes to me and tells me how pleased they were to watch their child put into practice one or several of the skills I teach to help with stress.
Even If You Don't Want That Kind Of Relationship
Even if you don't want that kind of relationship, there are children nowadays that will insist on sharing with you; if they trust you and you should be prepared to help them as best you can.
Unlike in my youth were I remember, with some resentment, I must say a lot of adults that insisted you just be quiet and do what they say; no matter what the problem is. You should be ashamed of yourself if you still think that way.
It may not seem a serious problem; at least not to you, but to the child, it is every bit as important as any of your own emotional problems.
So if a child comes to you with a problem what should you do?
What If You Were To Find Out Later
You could of course be like the adults that resented and ignore the child. But what if you were to find out later that your lack of listening resulted in the child having a real problem or worse and you discovered that you could have helped?
This article deals with children who share possible abuse, bullying or harassment, but it also covers how to deal with ordinary problems. And let's face it, it is a very real possibility that you have to confront the other issues one day. So if the information overlaps even better.
Of course, being in Australia I'm sure you all know that when it says:
"If the child may be in immediate danger, call 9-1-1 and keep the child with you."