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Yesterday was Mother’s Day in France. A friend (a mom of teens) shared about her reunion with her parents. “I left utterly discouraged.” What happened?!
They enjoyed a day full of fun outings: restaurants, shopping, and culture. What was discouraging about that?!
Then she spoke her heart. “I shared a video of my work with my dad. Not even 10 seconds into the video my father began telling me what I did wrong. Hey, I know the video was not perfect, but critique before listening is not the feedback I need. I just won’t talk to him about work anymore.” She’s an entrepreneur; work is her passion.
I doubt this father’s goal was to alienate his daughter…and yet he did.
[bctt tweet=”I doubt this father’s goal was to alienate his daughter…and yet he did.”]
Could you and I do that with our children too? You bet.
(In)Active listening impacts behavior
And when the children act out of discouragement, we think their behavior is their problem.
- They are too blasé. “Whatever.”
- They don’t listen to us
- They criticize their brother or sister
- Why can’t they just be motivated?!
[bctt tweet=”Children misbehave out of discouragement…and parents get more annoyed at the kids!”]
My friend is an adult. “She should know better,” and in a responsible, loving gesture she should go to her father and share her feelings. But, in her discouragement, she’s opting for “why bother?”
If adults (she’s MY friend. So, if intelligent, dynamic, and caring adults ????) decide against reconciliation, then what will our discouraged kids choose to do?
Yep. Our children keep up with that annoying behavior! And they seek counsel elsewhere. Aagh!
What does active listening sound like?
I shared with my friend tips I learned from Positive Discipline about listening styles.
In our classes, we have an activity like the movie “Groundhog Day.” We get to replay a scene, beginning again as if we were given a fresh start every time. It’s a roleplay of a child (an adult playing the role of a child) who comes to tell Mom or Dad about his BFB (Best Friend Breakup).
- Scene 1 – parent is on the phone, distracted
- Scene 2 – parent criticizes
- Scene 3 – parent tells child how he should act next time
- Scene 4 – silence
- Scene 5 – active listening. “What happened? What had you hoped would happen?…”
We ask the person playing the role of the child how they feel, what they think, and what they decide to do after each of these scenes.
The first four scenarios generate disengagement in various degrees of intensity. “I’ll go to my room…I just won’t tell them next time…I’m not good enough so why bother try.”
The Curiosity Questions*, however, built trust between parent and child, helped the kid discover his responsibility in the friendship dilemma, and inspired the child to handle the relationship differently.
SoSooper “Aha”: when bloopers help parents become super
These role plays are an Aha! moment. Oooops. You mean my kids act the way they do in part because I (the parent) acts the way I do!
John Newton’s Third Law of Motion also applies to e-motions: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.
It’s stories like that of my friend that motivate me to keep on developing SoSooper, the mobile app that helps parents equip their children to thrive.
Guess how many tips you’ll find to reconnect with kids WHEN you feel like a recording machine because they’re not listening?
Check it out on the SoSooper app 🙂
Cover photo from KiddyTrend