What is it? I think of listening on a spectrum that starts with making sure you understand what is really being communicated with a tool like mirroring and ends with empathy and attunement which are more elusive and require being truly in the moment, even letting go of ourselves a bit. Today I picked something in the middle but I kept hearing parents’ resistance: ‘but I don’t agree with what he’s saying’, ‘but she’s wrong’.
So I switched gears: accepting is not agreeing. Acceptance does not mean you agree; it means that you are aware of what he is saying, accepting of her perspective and appreciative of his situation. It's respecting their thoughts without judging or evaluating. That is what builds connection. How to Address It? This is not the time to help solve a problem, to teach, to share a story about a time it happened to you, to object or to ask lots of questions. (And there are times to use those approaches.) But if you really want to hear what your child is trying to communicate, this is the time to listen and accept. Your Script in Action
Child: The coach never plays me because he doesn't like me. Missed Opportunity: You may know that the statement is untrue but if you respond "that's not true, there are lots of kids who don't play" or "but I saw him put you in after the half" or "I'm sure the coach likes you - everyone likes you", you end up having your conversation and disputing how many minutes constitutes 'playing' or how likeable your child is. Bonding Opportunity By accepting your child's frustration, "You sound upset that you didn't get to play much today," you will open up space to hear what's really going on. Maybe she'll clarify her own thoughts that it's overwhelming being on the team with better players, maybe she's only saying it because it's what she thinks you want to hear. You won't know until you let her tell you.
GOT A MINUTE? Look for one opportunity today when you don't agree with what your child is saying and make a commitment to have a short conversation and accept what she's saying. I repeat accept, accept, accept in my head to keep myself from butting in!
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