What is a reflective conversation?
This has come up a number of times over the last couple of weeks with families I’m working with inside The Connective Parenting Hub, and it’s a really interesting one for us to be thinking about in terms of:
What we think ought to be happening in those conversations;
How are we actually reflecting; and
What is it we’re trying to get out of the conversation?
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A reflective conversation is a conversation we’re having with our child to reflect with them on a situation that has happened, whether that be an escalation or something you can see they’re struggling with.
We need to ask ourselves why we are having that conversation.
Is it really because we want to reflect with them?
Or is it because we are using the idea of the reflective conversation to tell them what we think they should be doing differently and how we think they should be doing it?
If we are having a reflective conversation with them that actually involves telling them what they did wrong, why they shouldn’t have done it like that, how they should have done it better and how you expect them to do it better next time – that’s not reflecting, that’s telling.
I don’t know about you, but if I’m told I need to do something differently next time, what I hear is “you didn’t do this very well, you’re not good enough, make sure you do it the way I want you to do it next time.” I know that makes it much harder for me to do that thing next time, I’m so worried about making sure I get it right.
For many of us as parents, we will have been brought up in that way too. We would have been told when we did something wrong and how we should do it better next time. And so, for many of us, that’s how we naturally parent. We tell the child off, ask them why they did it that way and then tell them how to do it better next time.
That might work for some children, but for a lot of children, that’s not us hearing them.
That’s not helping them understand what was happening for them and helping them to think how they can do it differently next time.
A true reflective conversation reflects with them, not at them.
If we want things to change over time, we need to reflect with them. Doing this with them teaches them the ability to look back and think “how was I feeling in that moment?”.
Over time with these reflective conversations, we can help them feel safer with their emotions and help them to understand how they can share and express their emotions in way that is safe for them and those around them.
When we just tell our child how to something differently, it’s much harder for them to take it on board. They’re not being listened to in that moment and their barriers go up. In these moment they need our empathy, not an instruction.
Reflecting with them helps to solve the problem. Reflecting at them keeps you both stuck.
My job as a parent is to help my son to understand his emotions and process them, to be able to achieve everything he’s capable of achieving in this world. Me telling him what he’s going to do isn’t going to help him develop with the level of emotional intelligence I would like him to grow up having.
Of course we need to help our child to understand what is and isn’t acceptable, but with Connective Parenting NVR we do it in a way that helps the child to understand and think about other ways they can express their emotions.
These reflective conversations are also called Deferred conversations in NVR (and you can find out more about Connective Parenting NVR HERE)
Reflective, or deferred, conversations don’t always come easy or naturally to us as parents – and that’s perfectly ok. We’re learning as much as our children are. We’re never going to get it right every single time, but we support each other to do our best inside The Connective Parenting Hub. If you’d like more support from us, you can find out more about The Connective Parenting Hub HERE.
Do you work with parents who are constantly struggling with de-escalation?
Find out more HERE about how you can help to support families with De-escaltion and more.