Listening is Every Parent's Quick Win - How it works
Listening is Every Parent's Quick Win -
A parent asks me this question.
"My son refuses to go to school. I can't be late for work again because of him, so I left him. What do I do? How do I get him to go to school? How do I protect my job? How do I survive another morning? I need a quick win."
To me, a quick win means -
"Help me find a way to reconnect with my child so I can help him."
"Help me fix this problem so we can get on with our lives."
"Help me fix the problem so I can feel better about myself."
Here's what to do.
Tell your child you want to schedule a time to listen. Call him on the phone from work. Knock on his door when you get home.
"Can we schedule 15-minutes so I can listen to you."
He might ignore you. Persist.
"I know you think I'm going to get mad and do all the talking, but I promise you, I'm going to do all the listening."
Eventually, he'll agree because believe it or not, he wants connection as much as you. Now you have to stick with what you said you would do. You have to listen open-heartedly while noticing how much your triggers want to take over. Don't let them. Listening without reactivity is hard, but you know that already.
Always tell the truth.
"I don't know what's going on with you. I don't understand what you're feeling. Can you tell me."
Wait. Listen. Nod. Look at him. Connect. Breathe. When you lose focus, tell him, "Hold up. I lost you. Can you go back."
When he does, repeat back what he says.
"Is that right. Good. Ok. Keep going. I'm listening."
And you're quiet again.
When he stops talking, he'll expect you to say something. To do what you've done before - react, correct, tell your side of the story. Don't. You're building trust here. You said this meeting was about you listening to him and that's all. Stick with that - no matter what. It's a beginning of things to come. Small steps. I know you want to fix the big problem of not going to school but nothing can happen until you rebuild connection. By listening to him, you're helping him articulate his feelings.
So don't change the rules mid-stream. Do exactly what you said you would do. After, hug him, shake hands. Bring the meeting to a close. He has given you a gift. Hold it gently. It's gold.
And you gave him a gift as well. You listened well.
"I'm going to think about what you've said to me. Can we talk again? How about tomorrow?"
A quick win is listening to your child without protecting yourself from what he's telling you.