Words are powerful and convey many messages. As humans we use words to express how we feel and sometimes our choice of language can be hurtful to others.
Other times it might not express the true problem but is the only way we know how to express our feelings. How often have you said something and then straight away regretted it, or known it wasn’t what you meant at all? I know I’ve certainly done that a few times.
Children can often express their emotions in words that can be hurtful to those hearing them. As a parent that’s not easy to deal with and we can inadvertently respond in a way that either ignores the child’s feelings or tells them off for saying it. Either way, that isn’t helping the child in the moment, but it is a totally understandable response.
Our child’s feelings are valid though, however hard they are to hear. It is their way of expressing their feelings in that moment. It’s not necessarily how they actually feel, but the only way they know to express it. If we brush their feelings aside, effectively what we’re saying is that their feelings are not important and they don’t matter, and that’s not what we want them to think.
I want to share with you a way that you can acknowledge your child’s feelings without agreeing with them. It’s a powerful way to show that are listening to them. In an escalating situation it can be a very effective way of calming things down quickly.
It’s a simple technique where you repeat back to the child what they have said. Here’s an example:
Child: I hate you!
Parent: You hate me.
It’s important that the parent responds with a neutral or curios voice, otherwise it may not come across in the right way.
As you can see, the parent is showing the child that they’ve heard them. They are not agreeing or disagreeing, just acknowledging.
You can also use this with positive things that a child says as well, to show them that you hear everything they say.
This approach doesn’t work with all children and some adults find it hard to use as well, but give it a try and see how it works. Remember, as with all new ideas you need to try them a few times before deciding if they work because they may not work in one situation but in another.
If you’d like support with this, or other aspects of parenting come and join me in the Connective Parenting Hub. The Hub is my membership group where members get support and advice from me whenever they need it, access to a library of online resources and sessions with other experts to support you in your parenting journey. You can find all the details here
Through my training and support in The Connective Parenting Hub, I can help you discover the Connective Parenting NVR approach and we can work together, in our community of other parents who “get it”, to help create a calmer home.
If you’re a professional who works with children and families, click here for more helpful resources and support.