How to Hear What Your Child is Really Saying (page 2)

How to Hear What Your Child is Really Saying

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Updated on Sep 26, 2011

Using Active Listening will show your child that you are truly trying to understand where she is coming from. When your child speaks to you, you may find yourself wanting to respond with advice, suggestions, or question after question. Instead, stick to the following guidelines for Active Listening:

·         Don't interrupt. If you need clarity about what your child has said, wait until after he has finished expressing himself.

·         Avoid all distractions, and do nothing else during the conversation whenever possible. Simply stop what you are doing, and listen. If you can’t stop, tell your child a time that you will be able to give her your full attention. This will let her know that what she's saying is important to you.

·         George encourages the use of door opener phrases that invite your child to further explain how she's feeling. Phrases like, “Tell me more about that" or "How does that make you feel?" You can also use noises (e.g., sighs, gasps) or short phrases like “No kidding,” “Really.” or even just “Oh.” These simple and seemingly small responses will let your child know that you are still listening and interested and more importantly, paying attention.

·         Retain eye contact with your child and make sure that your own body language conveys sympathy and focus, rather than annoyance and distraction.

Confirmation Statements

Once your child finishes talking over an experience, expressing a feeling, or making a complaint, make sure to confirm your child’s feelings before doing anything else. Confirmation statements can be something like, “So from what you’re telling me, you feel annoyed when your sister takes your things without permission. You think that you should be allowed to have a lock on your door to prevent this from happening again.” Or whatever the case may be. It's important to communicate to your child that you've heard what she's had to say. These kinds of confirmations assure your child that you have heard what she's said and understand how she feels. It also gives her a chance to clarify if you've misunderstood any part of what she said.

Who Owns the Problem?

George says that in PET courses, one of the most difficult concepts for parents to accept is the behavior window, which is the step of PET where you determine who owns the problem. For example, if a child is getting bad grades in school, it is sometimes hard for parents to realize that that is the child’s problem, not theirs, and needs to be addressed accordingly. On the other hand, if a child wants to stay out late, but the parent has a conflict of needs with such a late curfew, the problem belongs to both of them. Identifying the "owner" of the problem will allow you to not only better understand the problem itself, but also how you might be able to solve it and what solutions might work. If it is the child’s problem, actively listen to your child and encourage her to talk out the situation. If the problem belongs to both of you, however, you can use the win/win approach to conflicts.

The Win/Win Approach
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