2 Jul 2020

Parents - stop talking and start listening!

From Nine To Noon, 11:30 am on 2 July 2020

When a child is telling you about something that's bothering them, don't rush in with advice, says parenting coach Joseph Driessen.

It's a skill that can take some practise, but 'reflective listening' - in which you reflect back to your child what they're saying - is a better approach, he tells Lynn Freeman.

woman with daughter

Photo: Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels

Some people see emotions as taboo or frightening and shut people down when they're expressing how they feel, Driessen says.

So the first and most important thing to do when your child is telling you about something that's upset them? Stop talking and start listening.

Work towards putting aside how you feel about what your child saying and instead of interrupting them, repeat back what they've said as accurately as possible.

If you allow your child to explore and unpack their own feelings for themselves, they will feel more relaxed, he says.

"As the child feels you're not reacting, they become more at peace."

Rather than offering solutions, ask your child what they see as possible solutions and what advice they could give themselves, Driessen suggests.

This enables them to look at their own experience in a more detached way and discover their own wisdom.

Reflective listening can be very effective in all kinds of relationships, Driessen says, and can help build trust between romantic partners and coworkers.