Helping Children Keep Things in Perspective

Helping Children Keep Things in Perspective

Children often have difficulty differentiating small problems from bigger ones.  For many children, everything is one size – BIG!

Not getting a cookie before dinner is just as upsetting in the moment as having a favorite toy break or not going to the pool because it is raining. It can be hard on adults when children over react. We know there are cookies for dessert, or that we’ll go to the pool tomorrow when the weather is better.

How can we help our children ‘keep things in perspective?’

One easy technique is asking how big a problem it is. The adult can explain that problems come in all sizes, just like clothes and dogs. Ask the child to give an example of a big problem and a small one.   Accept the child’s assessment and don’t contradict or teach at this point. Give some examples from your own life for comparison and for use in the next part. For example, let your child know you find it a big problem when your car won’t start but it is only a small problem when your favorite TV show is cancelled.

Then introduce the idea that we can measure the size of problems.  Make the measurement visible by putting your hands close together for a small problem and far part for a big one.  You and your child can see there is lots of room for other size problems in between these extremes. Go back to the examples you gave and show with your hands apart how big each one is. Invite our child to do the same with their examples. This technique also works using a 1-10 scale, for older children and teens. However, there can be some satisfaction in actually showing others how big the problem is, at any age!

Remember that problems come in different sizes. Measuring ‘how big’ provides a distraction, helps put problems in perspective, and sets the stage for problem solving. Now you have a tool you can use anytime and anywhere that your child is upset!


Blog Disclaimer:  Please be aware that this blog contains general information. It is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended as treatment or a recommendation or prescription for a particular child. If you have questions about your child, please talk to your pediatrician or seek other professional services.