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.
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.
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.