With so much going on in the world that affects our children, it is important for our children to feel that they have a safe place to air their true feelings. In their eyes the little things are gigantic. As parents, we can be a haven of refuge when we master the art of listening. Here are five battle-tested keys that I’ve used to protect their feelings.
Allow your child to vent without offering advice. At this stage, they don't want your opinion or advice. They just want to be heard, so listen.
Refuse to judge or criticize. There is a time and place for everything. Whether they are right or wrong is not the issue here. If you judge or criticize, they may close the door to future communications.
Reassure your child that you're listening. As you pay close attention, use nonverbal communication such as nodding your head, eye contact, or a gentle touch to let them know you are engaged. Knowing that you are listening will make them feel valued.
Replay what you heard. Carefully reiterate what you heard your child say. If you are uncertain whether you got it right, simply ask, "Did I state that correctly?" They won't mind your question and will appreciate not being edited.
Allow your child to empty out. Before moving to another subject, wait patiently for your child to change the conversation. Be quiet and allow a minute of silence in honor of the intimate moment you just shared.
This is a "W" for parents, a real "win." Be assured that the lines of communication are open with no roadblocks. By refusing to judge or criticize, you can be trusted with your child's emotional scars. Keep these keys in your treasure box as you look forward to more conversations in developing a deeper relationship with your child. Way to go!