I like to think that I’m better at counseling real people than I am at answering test questions. Face-to-face, I’m listening, caring, and responding spontaneously with (what I hope to be) the right words for the situation. When taking the IBLCE exam, though, all of the “answers” can look good to me!
Over the years, though, I’ve helped other people to identify right or wrong answers, and I’ve found there are some definite red herrings. As you look at the responses, avoid anything that smacks of the following:
Judging: This comes along the lines of “That’s a dumb thing to do.” Well, the response is not quite that ugly! But variations might include: “No one else is doing that these days” or “That doesn’t seem very practical!” or “A pump would work better.”
Minimizing or Dismissing: This comes along the lines of “This is no big deal.” A response of this kind might be like: “Lots of mothers have gone through this and it resolves pretty quickly” or “You don’t need to worry about that at all.”
Re-focusing: Getting the attention away from what the mother is saying and focusing instead on another person, place, or topic is the trap of re-focusing. If the mother is crying her eyes out, saying “Would you like me to take you back to the nursery?” may at some point be useful, but the first response should be more like “Oh, this must be so difficult for you.”
Giving False Reassurance: Although most of us do want provide encouragement and support, we can’t get caught into the trap of false reassurance. “Don’t worry; your baby will be fine” and “She’ll recover. You’re giving her your milk and she’ll be better tomorrow” are examples of this.
Bossing: This is the trickiest of all! Most of us, thinking ourselves to be the experts, can fall into the trap of telling the mother what to do, because we honestly think our suggestion would be best. However, anything that smacks of ordering the mother is not the right answer for the test. Similarly, “fixing” the problem is another example of telling the mother what to do.
Generally, pick the answer that puts you in the role of facilitating the mother’s decision, rather than deciding or implementing a decision. While “fixing” may sometimes be appropriate, it is often not the appropriate first response. Wait until the mother has been “heard” and is “on board” with any suggestions you might make.