“My son was disrespectful to his teacher…”
“My kid hit his brother for no reason…”
“What’s wrong with saying ‘Why did you hit your brother?”What is wrong with you?”
“My daughter did not pack her snack for school..should I have let her suffer the consequences?”
“My daughter told me I was boring her…”
“Are you saying we should let our kids be disrespectful?”
“We got into the car and my son realized he left his toy at home and started having a major meltdown!”
These were just some of the issues, comments and questions we had last night at our first meeting of our
“How To Talk So Kids Will Listen” Workshop.
Courtney Evenchik,MA, NCSP and I led the workshop, amidst lots of laughter, sharing and talking. Our first order of business: learn how to validate our children’s feelings and study the language of empathy. Accepting children’s negative emotions, naming their feelings and really listening, is the best way to connect with kids.
We discussed the contrast between using empathy with children and the methods that adults generally use to respond to a child who is upset.
Learning how to empathize with others is an important life skill. It is invaluable when parenting. When adults deny children their feelings,”It’s only a lollipop!”, “You can’t be hot, it freezing out here!”, we essentially tell them that their problems are silly. They become stuck in their negative emotions and direct their anger towards the adult. As soon as we empathize, children feel understood and can start to let go of their negative emotions.This creates good feelings and builds a child’s self esteem. It improves the relationship between parents and their children.
Empathizing with our own children can help:
Diffuse power struggles
Show children we care for them and are interested in them as a person
Children think for themselves and come up with their own solutions to their problems
Children feel successful in their ability to communicate their innermost feelings. This creates a sense of safety, security and self-confidence.
Build our own sense of competence and self-confidence as parents, knowing that we are able to understand and meet our children’s emotional needs.
Tentatively, our group practiced their new skills.
We learned 4 communication techniques that help us empathize with our children:
1. Listen with full attention
2. Acknowledge their feelings with a word
3. Give their feelings a name
4. Give them their wishes in fantasy
We used listening sounds, “Uhm”, “Really”, “I see”.
When we were given the example, “I’d like to punch Michael in the nose!”, we named the feeling, “You sound angry! Something he did made you mad!”
We also learned to give our children their “wishes in fantasy” while using the example of a child asking for a drink while in the car.
“You wish we had orange juice in the car! You wish we had a refrigerator right here in the glove compartment!”
In our next class, we will be discussing how to engage our children’s cooperation.