Monday, July 21, 2008

What is active listening?

Active listening is a way of showing understanding. It involves listening carefully and then, from time to time, describing how you think the person is feeling, or summing up what you think she has said. Let her correct or add to what you have said. Keep listening until you can tell she feels understood. Here are some ideas to help you be an active listener with your child:

• Take time to listen carefully to what the child is saying.

• See if you can identify what the child is feeling.

• Ask the child: “I wonder if you feel ___________ (sad, alone, frustrated, confused).”

• After you describe the feeling, the child may want to correct or add to what you have said. Listen carefully.

• Maybe you will want to try again to describe what the child is feeling.

Active listening lets the child know you care about what she feels. Taking time to understand what children feel sends a powerful message to them. It says to them, “You’re important to me. I care about your feelings. I want to understand how you see things.” Understanding is a powerful way to show love.

If we take time to listen to and understand our children, they are more likely to become confident and caring people. It takes many years to learn how to be as understanding as we would like to be. But it’s well worth the effort.

Source : Principles of Parenting. H Wallace Goddard.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

How do I show understanding to a very young child?

When a child is very young, she doesn’t understand a lot of talking. It is still possible (and very important) to be understanding with her. For example, when a baby cries, an understanding parent looks for a cause rather than blaming the child.

The parent might check for hunger, a dirty diaper, discomfort, or loneliness. The understanding parent recognizes that a child cries because of a need. Parents can learn to be sensitive to those needs. Understanding starts long before children understand our words.

What is the message a child gets when we are understanding?

Think about how it feels to be understood. What are the messages we get when someone shows us understanding? When someone takes the time to understand our feelings, it may cause us to feel loved and safe. A child who feels understood by us is more likely to trust us and feel close to us.

Feeling understood helps a child understand his own feelings, respect them, and deal with them.

It may actually help the child find solutions to the problems. Showing understanding to a child may be especially difficult for parents. We tend to think it’s our job to correct and change our children. Consider the example of spilled milk.

When a child spills milk at the table, it’s common for parents to become angry. Sometimes we give them lectures about being more careful. Sometimes we even call our children names like “clumsy” or “stupid.” Lectures and name calling are likely to make the child angry or hurt.

How can we show understanding when a child makes a mistake like spilling milk? One way is to simply say, “Oops. Will you get a towel and wipe up the spill, please?” By avoiding lectures and insults, we are showing respect for the child’s feelings. Insulting lectures don’t help children do better next time they have milk. They may even make the child more nervous and more likely to spill it.

Another message of understanding is: “It’s easy to spill a glass of milk. All of us do it some time. Please get a towel and wipe up the spill.” Children need to know they can make mistakes and still be loved and accepted. Sometimes it’s hard to show understanding because we feel angry when the child makes a mistake. When we’re afraid we might say something mean, we are wise to be quiet until we feel less anger.

Source : Principles of Parenting. H Wallace Goddard.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Being Understanding: A Key To Developing Healthy Children

Being understanding with our children can result in less conflict in our relationships with them. Being understanding is also an important part of helping our children become secure and healthy people. And being understanding is a powerful way of showing love. Most of us feel that we are already good at understanding our children and at showing that understanding. But there are surprises in the process of understanding. The ways we try to show understanding often don’t work very well.

Ways NOT to show understanding

Many things we think show understanding actually have the opposite effect. They make a person feel mad or misunderstood. Following are some examples of things that we should avoid:

• Don’t give advice.

“What you need to do is . . . .”

“If you would stop being such a baby you wouldn’t have that trouble.”

• Don’t talk about your own feelings and experiences instead of theirs.

“I understand.”

“That same thing happened to me.”

“That’s nothing. You should hear what happened to me.”

“I know just how you feel.”

• Don’t make the child’s pain seem unimportant.

“Everybody suffers. What makes you so special?”

“Why don’t you grow up?”

“Stop that. You’re driving me crazy.”

When people feel bad, they feel that their pain is so bad that no one can really understand it. That’s why a person who is hurting would probably rather have you say, “Your pain must be awful. I wish I could understand just how sad (or hurt or lonely) you feel.” Sometimes the best way to show understanding is to admit that you can’t understand just how bad a person feels.

How can I show understanding?

The key to understanding what the other person feels is identifying her feeling. After we have listened carefully (and watched carefully) to learn how a child is feeling and acting, we might do one of the following:

• Acknowledge or identify the child’s feeling.

“You feel strongly about this!”

“You seem to feel very concerned (hurt, upset, confused).”

• Invite more discussion.

“I would like to understand how you are feeling. Will you tell me more?”

“Uh huh.”

• Understand that the person’s pain is special for that person.

“I wish I could understand better how you feel.”

“Ouch. I don’t know if I can even guess how terrible you feel.”

• Use active listening.

“Let me see if I understand. You feel like . . . ? “

“It sounds like you feel lonely (confused, sad, etc.).”

Source : Principles of Parenting. H Wallace Goddard.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

How can I show understanding and still discipline my child?

Sometimes it’s hard to deal with our children because we’re angry or tired or lonely. We don’t have any love to give our children. If that is true, we need to find ways to strengthen ourselves. We may need to have time with our friends or time for our hobbies. It’s hard to give love when we feel empty.

Take time to listen to children’s feelings. Understand. Remember that what the child is experiencing is very real to the child. Don’t try to discuss problems with the child when you are angry. Regularly ask the child about her experiences. “What was school like today?” “How did the test go?” “What was the happiest

thing that happened today?” Ask questions. Listen.

Remember that each person is different. You may have one child who cries over every experience. You may have another who keeps all feelings inside. Each child may need understanding in a different way. But each child needs understanding. Help the child understand other people’s feelings. “How do you

think Michelle felt about her dog being lost?” As you discuss feelings, try to understand what the other person feels. Once a child feels understood, she is more likely to accept correction. She is more likely to want to obey.

Source : Principles of Parenting. H Wallace Goddard.