Listening without fixing
author By Emilie Leeks,

Listening through our children's tears and other big feelings, rather than shushing, distracting or fixing things to get them to stop, feels quite alien at first for many of us. But once we have gained an understanding that expressing big emotions helps to 'clear the air' - to get us back to clear thinking and joyful living - there's no going back. Here's how one wonderful parent from our Journeys in Parenting community experienced the transformative power of listening.

No going back JiP meme

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Feeling proud! Today I managed to Staylisten with E, my 7-year-old, when her money box smashed all over the floor… I had to really resist the urge to jump in with a fix and rob her of her chance to grieve! When I didn't offer a fix she looked at me and screamed 'You have to fix it or I will hit you!' I often get carried away with the talking but I kept my words to a minimum, I removed everyone from the room so I could be with her whilst she was upset and not worry about sweeping up the mess right there and then. At first she wanted to keep a small piece but I said I couldn't let her as it is sharp! Her feelings came in waves of anger and sobs and then she would stop so I would probe gently 'It was your special money box, I know'. she looked at me as if to say why on earth are you bringing it up?!! Then she would cry some more again. This happened about 4 times until she said something 'hilarious' about poo… We all giggled and she has been great ever since, I even said 'I'm going to sweep it up now' and she was ok!! My goodness she needed that and I am so grateful to Hand in Hand for giving me the tools to use in situations like this one.

broken glass dustpan brush 4

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It's not easy to suddenly start listening to our little ones' big feelings, and it can bring up all sorts of feelings for us when we try it. We use our tool of Listening Partnerships to help us work through what's hard for us in listening to our children - exchanging time with another adult, who will listen without judgement to us as we talk about how hard parenting can be, helps us to clear our own minds and to think more clearly and intentionally about how we want to respond to our own children's upsets. You can find out more about Listening Partnerships in the links below, including how to set one up.

LP Em Stuart

Further reading:
- Life is easier when you listen
- Staylistening - how does crying help you and your child?
- The science behind the Hand in Hand tool of Staylistening

A word or two about Journeys in Parenting: a blog about our experiences on the path of peaceful parenting…

We are a family of 5, living in Berkshire in the UK. I (Emilie) am married to the rather wonderful and (thank goodness!) supportive Stuart, and we have 3 young children, aged 9, 6, and 4. I decided to start this blog after a few enquiries from friends and acquaintances about what our parenting style is all about. I hope that writing about the peaks and pitfalls of our peaceful parenting journey will help others in a similar position - i.e. wanting to make changes to their parenting, but not quite sure where to start! It's very much an ongoing journey for us, and in no way do we claim to have all the answers, but we hope that reading about trying to support our children in a peaceful, responsive way that works for our family will perhaps inspire others to find their own path too.

And to all parents out there reading this: I hope this will be a mutually supportive resource. It is not intended to be a comment on any parenting style which is different from ours, rather it reflects what is working for our family and that which might be useful for others - the article I Am Not a Better Mother Than You says it better than I ever could! I fully welcome respectful comments and questions (e.g. in the vein of "I have found X works well for me" rather than "You shouldn't do it like that") - please try to avoid judgement of others when posting. I have no problem with my ideas being politely questioned, but if our overall parenting style is not for you, please do feel free to go and find other resources which are a better fit for you. Best of luck to everyone, as I know we are all doing the very best that we can for our children, no matter which paths we take!

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