"Yes, but many others have it more difficult than you..."
Your child is going through a difficult time. Something happened that they find distressing, challenging, disappointing or upsetting. They share their feelings with you about the situation and you choose to respond by saying: "Yes, but just remember that other kids (in your school/ in other countries in the world/ in your family) have it way worse than you, so you have lots to be grateful for!" What you might be trying to do in this moment is to help your child see the bright side of the somewhat grey situation they are in, but, in actual fact you are dismissing their experience and communicating to them that there is little space to share and feel distressed, disappointed or upset.
Here's how you can approach the scenario above a bit differently next time:
1. Acknowledge the feeling of disappointment/ despair/ distress:
"Gosh, I can imagine that this experience has made you feel [insert feeling]. I am sorry to hear that you are currently feeling this way." [This communicates to your child that their feelings are valid, regardless of whether you would also feel the same as they are if you were in their shoes.]
2. Create space for your child to share more if they'd like:
"If you feel you need to take more time to talk to me about it, let's set some time aside to discuss your experience." [This communicates to your child that there is space for them to share what they'd like and that you are not dismissing their experience or feelings.]
3. Leave comparisons out of the conversation:
Every person's experience of suffering is unique and relative to their life situation. Just because your child's friend perhaps lost a parent and your child has not, does not mean your child's experience of suffering is 'less worse' than that of their friend's. Your child does not need to be suffering less because they know others who have suffered more.
"You are allowed to feel [insert feeling] and that is perfectly okay. Let's talk about how you can help yourself move through these feelings to feel better again." [This communicates acceptance and validation. It also communicates that you are there to support your child to move through the unpleasant feelings and find ways to feel better again when they are ready to do so.]
Many of us have been taught to see the light and positive side to difficult situations and that can be so valuable! The challenge is to find the balance between creating space for sharing difficult experiences, validating them and then, when the time is right, also searching for the positive side of the difficult situation.
Reach out to me if you need more guidance on this. Head over to my website to subscribe to my blog and receive a free parenting resource!