The second strategy I suggested is to make a point to listen to your child’s side of the story. This can often be extremely challenging for some parents, particularly when your child is clearly in the wrong. Nonetheless, it is extremely important for our children to feel confident that we are listening to them and understanding what they are trying to say.
More often than not you can’t accomplish this by simply telling them that you understand what they are saying. Make a conscious effort to paraphrase back to them what they have just said. This will not only confirm that you are listening to them, but will also pave the way for them to correct you if you’ve missed an important piece of what they’re trying to communicate.
Let’s be honest though, no one likes to be parroted. What I’m suggesting here is not as simple as that. Take the time to restate what your child is saying in your own words to minimize the potential for coming across as sarcastic or demeaning. Something as simple as starting with “It sounds like what you’re saying is…” can have a tremendous impact on your relationship with your child, particularly if they are an adolescent.
Read last week’s post on Anger & Tone of Voice.
Nick Hersey, LAMFT, LAPC