In frustration, and some desperation, Mum unleashed the threat:
“Come now! Or you don’t get your Lego later. I. WILL. TAKE. IT. A-WAY!”
I often see this unnecessary back and forth as parents try to win over their kids by going head to head with them. Unfortunately, this only leads to more defiance or power struggles.
A parent’s true intention is to get their kids to listen and to gain WILLING cooperation.
When we know that our reaction doesn’t achieve what we want, is there a way to act that will get a better result?
The simple answer is: YES!
In fact, the answer to getting on the road to less power struggles and arguments is based on this easy-peasy two step technique:
1. Take a deep breath
2. Acknowledge what the child is feeling
Its really as simple as that, and I urge you to give it a try. Why not? It’s got to be worth a shot.
Let’s head back to Leon’s house:
As the argument continued to unfold, no one was feeling good, and they were still not heading out on the walk.
Communication had shut down and Mum was feeling herself losing her cool. She had spent the last half hour trying logic and reasoning in an attempt to get her son to change HIS mind and say:
“Gee, mum I totally understand your point of view. I am just so selfish to think I could stay at home. I’ll just go and get my coat!”
Well Mum, dream on. Such a reply is never going to happen when locking heads.
is not the same as agreeing;
is not about changing limits or boundaries;
is not about proving one person right and the other person wrong.
However, if we try to “Acknowledge” and understand the reasons for our child’s actions we create a valuable pause in the conflict that allows effective communication with each other whilst we de-escalate the situation.
Mum then took a deep breath and sat down next to a very frustrated Leon.
“Leon, tell me again why you don’t want to come out for a walk?” she asked him.
And this time, she was listening. Really listening. Not just waiting for her chance to reply and prove her point. Just listening.
“Oh! I see, sweetie, I know how much you love your Lego, it is SOOO super cool and you have nearly finished it. I know that the last thing you want to do now is get all dressed up and go to the park.”
Thus, Mum reflected back to Leon his feeling, all without making him feel bad or shaming him.
Leon looked up at his mum and smiled. For the first time in a while he felt understood and validated.
“Everyone is waiting for us, let’s put your Lego on the shelf so it’s waiting for us when we get home.”
And just like that Leon, hugged his mum, smiled and ran out to join his siblings.
You see, unless our child first feels heard and understood, that their needs and wants have been acknowledge they are not open to listen to us.
Let’s look at 3 steps to acknowledging
1. Listen to what is going on for your child.
See the situation from your child’s point of view, without getting defensive. You are connecting with, and validating your child’s feelings and wants.
2. Reflect back to your child
Let your child know that you have heard them. That you understand them and why they would feel the way they do.
3. You are not trying to get your child to change their mind.
They can have a different opinion than yours and that is OK.
Our kids will not be open to hear our views unless they first feel heard and understood. We don’t need to change our views, just to learn to listen and acknowledge.
This is where the magic lives.
Give it a try and let me know how you get on.
Hi! I’m Camilla, a Language of Listening® parent coach, and I support parents just like you to transform family life with the magic of Language of Listening® Download my Empowered Parenting Free mini-course Now – just three simple steps to radically change the way you parent.