Taking the time to listen and respond to your spouse is often essential to a happy relationship. However, listening and responding to your young child can be just as crucial to ensure their well-being and yours. Your children should never be viewed as little adults who should just analyze problems on their own. They require the same understanding, empathy and responsiveness as the rest of us.
Take Down the Wall
Parents can easily become defensive when their young child is upset, frustrated or angry. Much of the time, their distraught behavior is warranted because something elsewhere outside of your relationship with them is causing a bother. Most young children are constantly bombarded with outside influences when spending time with other children and adults, and have limited skills to tackle even the littlest problem.
If your day has been especially challenging and you are unable to listen to your child objectively, step back, relax and revisit the problem when you can. Take a breath! Tearing down the wall of defensiveness and focusing all your attention toward your young child can give them a sense of security in knowing that their problems, however small, have value to you.
Speak with “Feeling” Words
When you deal with the concerns of your young child, it is essential to keep your response simple. Just like you, your child never likes hearing a lecture. Speak to your child using “feeling” words as an effective and simple solution for responding.
Examples of phrases using “feeling” words are:
- I understand Johnny hurt your feelings
- I bet that really upset you
- When things like that happen to me I feel sad
And then answer them by saying “how does that make you feel?” In all likelihood, the child will respond in feeling words that require no interpretation such as “I am sad, happy, embarrassed, upset, mad or angry?” Providing your child empathy in their time of need helps build a strong bond between each of you.
Find a Resolution Together
The moment your child knows that their concerns have been heard, they typically find a resolution to their problem on their own. In fact, the child can be highly effective at fixing their problems when parents provide empathy and concern to their immediate issues. In many incidences, the child can quickly realize how their actions helped or hurt them and others involved in the problem.
In the event that the child is unable to resolve the issue, use imagination and creativity to promote a sense of fun. Being playful and happy after providing empathy is a much better solution than being irritated or frustrated because of their inability to get past the problem. Explain to your child that you too are disappointed that life is unfair sometimes, and find a happier solution to make life easier until the sense of discontent passes.
Moms and dads can become better parents when they choose not to get involved in a typical cycle of arguing. The cycle can begin with the child being angry and the parent responding that they need to behave, which only makes the child more upset. This is usually followed by the parent ignoring the child altogether.
Alternatively, parents can stop the cycle of arguing and avoid their child shutting down or becoming rebellious. Providing them your full attention with empathy and concern over their troubles helps you be a better parent with a better-adjusted child. A win-win for all!