For many parents, raising a listening child can be one of the most challenging – and important – lessons in life.
Not only is the ability to listen critically to a child’s early development – enabling them to learn and stay safe from harm – but it is also essential for building relationships and for professional success later on. in life.
Yet, so often it can feel as if a child is unable – or unwilling – to listen, leading to arguments and tantrums, with parent and child miles apart in their positions.
However, this does not have to be the case, according to parenting expert and authorized “Language of Listening” coach Camilla Miller. Miller described the three-step framework set up by the US as the “missing step in parenting,” saying it could help re-frame any conflict and allow a child to achieve their goals within a parent’s boundaries. .
“You get what you want and they get what they want. It’s win-win,” Miller, founder of UK-based website and coaching firm Keeping your cool parenting, told CNBC Make It.
Here are the three steps to getting your child listening, according to Miller.
1. Say what you see
The first step in the “Language of Listening” is simple: Say what you see. Rather than judging your child’s behavior, resist the urge to react and literally express what you see.
For example, you may not think your child is sharing, and you wish they were, but in their eyes they are playing. Say so much: “You’re playing with that toy.” Similarly, you can think that they give you attitude, when they feel frustrated in their mind. Acknowledge that: “You feel frustrated about this situation.”
When your child feels unheard, they feel that you are rejecting their desires and needs.
coach, Keep your cool parenting
“Your child needs to be heard before they can listen to you,” Miller said. “When your child feels unheard, they feel that you are rejecting their desires and needs, they think you are telling them how they feel wrong.”
That does not mean you have to give in to their demands. But it gives you the opportunity to step into their shoes and find out the cause of their behavior.
“As often as parents, we go in with a claim or a request, and we have not recognized what our children want first,” Miller said. “If you do not care about what they want, they will not care about what you want.”
2. Offer a can-do
Once you understand your child’s behavior and empathize with it, you will be in a better position to help them move forward and find a solution.
When they show behaviors that you do not like, they help divert that energy to something that you do like.
For example, they may jump on the bench and you would prefer that they do not have it. Recognize their desire to jump around and blow off steam, but help them direct that energy to another space such as the floor or a trampoline. Alternatively they might be demanding a new toy and their birthday is just over. Help them think of some ways they can buy it for themselves, such as earning extra pocket money.
“It’s about looking at the need behind the behavior and helping them meet that need in a way that is acceptable to you,” Miller said.
However, if they show a behavior that you do like, acknowledge and enable it to help reinforce such behavior in the future.
3. Finish with a strength
Once you have deescalated the situation and reached a compromise, close the discussion by highlighting a strength your child has shown.
However, avoid structuring the feedback with yourself in the center, i.e. “I’m so glad you did.” Instead, divert your thinking to good things in life, such as saying, “You’re such a problem solver, you’ve found a way to fix it.”
By adopting the child’s inner voice, it helps them to reinforce that behavior.
coach, Keep your cool parenting
In this way, they will recognize themselves as an active participant in the situation and one with strong decision-making abilities, which are more likely to be repeated over time.
“By adopting the child’s inner voice, it helps them reinforce that behavior and build their self-esteem,” Miller said.
Change your own response
While the “Language of Listening” framework is structured primarily for children, it is one that can also be applied to other age groups and situations, including teens, colleagues, and romantic relationships, according to Miller.
In the case of teens, for example, saying what you see can help them better understand themselves when they may be behaving in unusual ways, while at the same time opening up the communication channels with you as a parent.
“In general, the reason people act or shout is because of their need for power,” Miller said, pointing out that it is necessary to respect that desire.
Meanwhile, really listening to and understanding other people’s perspectives can also help you to be more considerate and compassionate as a person.
“It’s actually also about understanding your own behavior,” Miller continued. “The fastest way to change our response is to change the way we see things.”