home

How parents’ active listening changes kids’ behavior

Sad Mom: not heard…on Mother’s Day 🙁

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?!

Irony.

[bctt tweet=”Children misbehave out of discouragement…and parents get more annoyed at the kids!”

Parent listening styles
“Honey. maybe I should shrink ME!”

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.

(*Curiosity Questions are a tool from Positive Discipline by Dr. Jane Nelsen and Lynn Lott.)

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? 

Sign-up to get the app when it launches…and you’ll see for yourself 😊

[mailmunch-form id=”316729″]

 

 

Our favorite activity about family for a SoSooper New Year!

The Family Feedback

One of our most precious family moments comes after Christmas.  That’s when we share what each person does well and how we can be even stronger as an individual and as a family.

We” means the kids start with the feedback and Mom & Dad L.I.S.T.E.N.

[bctt tweet=”The Family Feedback:  kids share and parents LISTEN.”]

The structured process keeps discussion positive.  Each child gets to share:
ONE THING that Mom or Dad do that they love (and want them to keep doing)
– ONE THING that would hugely improve family life for them.  Parents listen.  

You might be surprised by the suggestions!  It might be a no-brainer “YES.”  (My son asked, “No more lemon cake.”)  Other requests could merit deeper discussion.  (“More screen time.”  “No veggies.”)  Talk it over while everyone is calm and together. 

We tried The Family Feedback

[av_one_third first]

with teens

Boys grow up

Click here

[/av_one_third]

[av_one_third]

with kids

parents listening to child

Click here

[/av_one_third]

[av_one_third]

with tots

listen-mom-son

Click here

[/av_one_third]

 

Download Free Tools

SoSooper prepared some worksheets for you:

  • to prepare
  • to succeed
  • to remember

Click here to get your free downloads.

Ask questions & Tell us how it went

We’d love to hear from you.  Give us YOUR feedback too!

[contact-form][contact-field label=’Name’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Email’ type=’email’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Website’ type=’url’/][contact-field label=’YOUR Questions & Feedback’ type=’textarea’ required=’1’/][/contact-form]

The Family Feedback with little children

How much can your young child tell you about YOUR job as a parent?

Quite a lot.

By listening you share encouraging words for your kids.

The Family Feedback with tots

The Family Feedback is ONE GREAT FAMILY TIME where kids give feedback to parents. They start with the good stuff 🙂 and move onto deeper discussion.  Read more here.

For very young kids, we stick to sharing family highlights.  

You want your kids to associate “family” with “fun”?  Then ask them to tell you about a fun time with Mom or Dad.  This strengthens the neural messaging in their brains so that they can more easily access memories of great times as a family.  

Our brain is amazing…and malleable.

Ask, “Tell me about a time you felt really happy with us.”

“When we played ball together.”

Help your child fully recall with the experience through specific and factual questions.

“What color was our ball?” “Was it before or after lunch?” “Who else was playing with us?”

Then gently probe for what generated the positive emotions.

“What was soooooo great?” “Which part made you feel the most special?”  “What did you do to show you were happy?”

Thank your child.  

“Your telling me when you were happy makes me very happy too.  Thanks, Darling.”

We tried it & loved it

Here’s what one mother shared after a SoSooper workshop where she and her three year old daughter enjoyed such a conversation:

“My daughter was probably a little bit young (only 3) and I think was struggling to really engage with the activities. However, even though she dealt with it on her level, I think she still got a lot out of the experience – and found it nice that it was a time where mummy was ready to listen to her and find out what she found fun and loving about being in our family.

This workshop reminded me that we do all right as a family (eating together, playing together, respecting each other). As I’m sure you know only too well – it’s a tricky job, mummying, and can seem very unrewarding sometimes. If I were a business, (actually I’m a secondary school teacher) I wouldn’t put up with clients who were so demanding and so seemingly ungrateful for all my efforts. I think what you’re doing is so important – just like in any job, you have training for that ‘shot in the arm’ of enthusiasm and clarity to do your job better every day. Parents need that more than anyone!”

Download Free Tools

SoSooper prepared some worksheets for you:

  • to prepare
  • to succeed
  • to remember

Click here to get your free downloads.

Family Harmony – oh-so-doable with Purpose, Time, & Teachability

Sneak peek into this post:

  • Insights from 25 years of marriage
  • Our “perfect” anniversary day: basking in family harmony
  • Our ongoing road to family harmony

Continue reading “Family Harmony – oh-so-doable with Purpose, Time, & Teachability”

Love, love, and love. Enlightening ways to spell L.O.V.E.

My husband and I celebrate 25 years of marriage this year!

What has enabled our union and our boys to thrive?  The glue is called love, in its many spellings 🙂
love love love and laughLove as L.A.U.G.H.

My husband has an amazing sense of humor.  When tension rises, he brings humor into the situation which enables us to communicate respectfully and productively once again.

Laughter gives us just those nanoseconds needed to let steam diffuse before we explode.  Phew.  It’s nice to be nice.  I hate myself when I act and look like a raven pecking at my kids (or something worse)

Learn to laugh at yourself:

What situation gets you M.A.D.?  Imagine you just landed from Mars and saw someone in that exact situation, what would they see, hear, and smell?  Could there be something funny about that?love love love and listen

Love, love as L.I.S.T.E.N.

Soooo much easier said than done.  Through my parent coaching I have become more aware of my own TOTALLY FLAWED behavior.

My most common blooper is to “listen” with my mouth open.  The children call it “giving lectures.”  Yet as tots become teens, connecting with our kids means giving them space to grow.  When I speak less, they share more.

[bctt tweet=”When I (parent) speak less, the children share more. Love is spelled L.I.S.T.E.N.”]

Learn to listen:

Write down some of the words you tell your partner and children.  Hand the list to them and ask them to read these words out loud to you.  Stand 2 meters (2 yards) away from them.  Step forward if those sayings motivate you to closeness.  Step back if those words aggravate you.  Compare your ending position to where you started out.

Invite your loved ones to add to the list and try this again.

ONCE you have shown your loved ones how you listen, invite them to “hear with their feet” too.
love love love and learn

Love, love, love as L.E.A.R.N.

Together time gets a boost during vacations.  Our family thrives on physical exercise and some kind of discovery.  It’s one of our values to embrace diversity, to move beyond our comfort zone, to choose being wonder-filled.

We ask our children all the time to stretch their knowledge (learn at school), to stretch their effort (one more bite of dinner, please), to stretch their patience (just one minute longer….)

Discovery as a family enables me to model the attitude we hope to grow in our kids.  As I struggle through my own learning, I also gain in empathy with my kids.

Learn to encourage:

It is also encouraging to cheer someone on while at their side.

Haven’t you done or been in the situation where well-meaning people act like this:  they advance faster than you and turn back to encourage.  With the distance between you, they have to scream at the top of their lungs, “KEEP IT UP.”  Their words shouted in the distance sound fumbled.  Their body language looks angry (we shout better with feet apart and a certain facial grimace!)

When we are learning we are vulnerable.  Encouragement through proximity truly passes on the message, “We’re together in this.”

Which L.O.V.E. will you apply today?

love love love many ways

“Good” parents don’t need tips or tools. True or False?

[av_four_fifth first]
A friend asked a great question:  “Why should parents need help?  Aren’t we (moms and dads) supposed to know….and if we get help does that mean we messed up along the way?”

Let’s take a step back.

Fresh Parenting Perspective

Have you ever stood VERY CLOSE to a tree, like with your nose touching the bark, and SIMULTANEOUSLY admired the forest?  Probably not.

When we have our nose to the grindstone (le nez dans le guidon) it is like a camera with a high zoooom lens.  We see details of the specifics in front of us and lose sight of the big picture.

Step back from the tree bark…to get a glimpse of the forest and your destination.

And have you noticed how pain acts in a similar fashion?

Time is short.  We want relief NOW.  No waiting. 

I love how the 17th century gambler, Chevalier de Méré, puts it, “Il n’est pas bon d’être malheureux mais il est bon de l’avoir été.” (“It is not good to be sad, but it is good to have been.”)

tree bark close up

Happy sad finger faces

path through forest

In at least one way parenting and gambling are similar:  the HIGHs can be extraordinary and the LOWs can be extraordinarily discouraging.

And in those moments of doubt, a helping hand….helps.

Parents’ Helping Hand

That’s the SOSOOPER goal.  To enable parents to take a step back and to regain hope and courage to persist, even to thrive.

We designed online workshops to give parents and their children opportunities to over challenges together.

Many parenting experts encourage (instruct) moms and dads to take time off.  But how?  When?

An event with an outside person facilitates the process.  SoSooper workshops revisit sensitive issues from a fun and fresh perspective.  The focus is on solutions, not on blame…therefore not on the pain that family members suffer.  The online workshops help turn subjects of tension into opportunities of learning.

Of course parents can do this on their own too.  And yet, realizing the need to step back AND committing to doing so requires a change of posture.  That’s tough.  An outside catalyst, such as a person, an event, an activity, helps change happen more smoothly.

I believe parents are leaders.  It is a common professional practice to organize leadership seminars and team building events.  Consider the SoSooper workshops to be just that:  your family team brainstorming bonanza.

The goal of these guided discussions is to strengthen the relationship within YOUR super family. 

Family meeting. Parents with kids.

Family meeting having fun. Parents with children.

We present a fresh perspective SO THAT YOUR family can benefit by exploring it together.  

We pose questions you might not have thought to ask.

That’s normal; you have been managing the busy daily routine.  The answers to the questions you explored remain for you.  The process of mutual exploration is for you.  The thrill of discovery of each other is for you.  The memory of creating solutions together is for you.  The ease of life that comes from your personalized solutions is for YOU.

Hope this answers your questions.  We love hearing them so keep on asking.

[/av_four_fifth]

Family Feedback Peek-a-boo—To Mom, be clear. To child, be humble

Family dinner“A TABLE!”  That’s French for “Time to eat. Kids, come NOW! Prepare your taste buds and your conversation skills…”

On December 31 the family was dispersed in six different parties.  On January 1, we all sat down for a meal together…and shared feedback on 2013 and insights for growing forward.  We call thisThe Family Annual Review.

We do this every year and it is AN AMAZING family moment that the children request year after year.  Read here for the “How To’s.”

Friends (who also are parents) exclaim, “What a great idea….but I’d be so scared.”  We’re giving you The Run Down so that you can get a feel for how it happens…and do it chez you too!

Since we have four sons, we’ve given each one a full post.  Keep clicking to the next post!  Each child is different (don’t you KNOW!) so you catch a different aspect of the exchange from each one.

Executive Summary

In essence, our eldest son asked me to be more clear about finances and who pays what.  My growth challenge to him centers on learning through humility.

The Run Down

Mom, sometime between the green beens and the cheese (meals chez nous are served in courses.  We’re American AND French!): “Hey guys, let’s do the review.  Who wants to give me feedback?”

Silence.

Mom: “Son 1 (of course I used his name, probably preceded by a ‘honey’), why don’t you start.  What is one thing I have done well this past year?”

Son 1 (19 years old.  Junior in college):  “I know I’m only supposed to say one thing, but here are two.  You have been very welcoming of my girlfriend coming to stay at our home (she stays i the guest room).  You’re becoming more flexible.  You have also been kind in driving me back and forth to school (he comes home some weekends and usually takes public transportation…which takes 1 hr while, at no-traffic times, the car takes 20 minutes) on some short notices.  Thanks.”

Mom:  “I’m glad we have been able to coordinate schedules so that we can do those runs outside of rush-hour.”

Son 1:  “…and to change, two things too! (meek grin)  First, consider letting my girlfriend and I sleep in the same bed at home.  And second, you’re not clear with the financial budget.  When I come to you with exceptional expenses (contact lenses, pharmacy purchases…) you say those are in the budget, but when I worked out finances with Dad we did not include funds for that.  So, I feel like I’m paying for too much.”

Mom:  “About the girlfriend, I hear you.  You know that we have different perspectives on this and I’m not willing to change (yet?).  So what is the budget exactly?…. (Discussion to clarify)…well, let’s get that written down and put it in The Binder (THE PLACE where we store family ‘contracts’, kids’ friends’ phone numbers, forms we’ll need in two months and  wonder where to keep in the meantime…)

For reimbursements, talk to me like you do with receipts.  You usually do so when my hands are full of soap suds from the dishes…so I’ll put Post-It notes in the kitchen drawer on which you can write an IOU and stick it on top of the stove.  That way I’ll remember to pay you back.”

Son 1:  “Thank you.”

Raclette family mealMom:  “My turn for feedback to you.”  (Yes, all the other boys are listening…and eating.  We get a few ‘Pass the _______’ as we’re going along.)

“What you have done that is really great is to develop a relationship of confidence with your Chinese tutor.  (He helps a Chinese student with French and English…and with cultural adaptation.)  From time to time you tell us of his surprised (horror-stricken) reactions to events at school.  The entire family has benefited from your sharing those insights.  And what it shows about you, is that you have been able to secure his trust so that he can express both positive and negative observations with confidence. That’s GREAT.”

Son 1: “Yeah, it’s been interesting for me too.  Thanks.”

Mom:  “Regarding growth for next year, be humble.  You’ll be studying in Asia for 6 months. Life doesn’t happen the same way there as it does in Paris.  We French are known for being aggressive and arrogant…and you have exhibited those attitudes in the past.  Being humble means purposefully listening and learning.  Be like a sponge:  take in before squeezing out.”

Son 1:  “I hear you.”

That’s good enough…it’s even wonderful!

NEXT SON…

In this series:  Family Annual Review Peek-a-boo

Enjoy the whole shebang!

  1. To Mom, be clear.  To child, be humble.
  2. To Mom, be flexible.  To child, go step by step.
  3. To Mom, stop being a fashion victim.  To child, think before you speak.
  4. To Mom, be generous.  To child, learn through a job.

Family Annual Review How To’s