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Listening is Every Parent's Quick Win - How it works

February 13, 2018

 

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."

And this. 

"Help me fix this problem so we can get on with our lives." 

And this. 

"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.

Listening.

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.

What Parents Are Saying

"Kimberly asks hard questions, and holds my feet to the fire. She has a gift for asking the right questions, and coming up with strategies that are manageable, comprehensible and always on target. "
- Single mother of two adopted boys (ages 9 &13)
"Kimberly has been a God-send to me. She always gets where I’m coming from and supports me while giving me guidance, tools and hope. "
- Single mother of one (18)
"Her approach is caring, no-nonsense and action oriented. I would definitely recommend her."
- Single father of three (ages 9, 9 & 12)
"We sometimes wonder how we managed as parents before we met (Kimberly)! We feel more confident and calm as we parent our kids together. "
- Father of two (ages 3 & 5)
"She is superb at finding the right balance of coaching, guidance and providing practical tools. She is insightful and encouraging but also knows when to provide the necessary push me to look deeper at my reactions to given situations. ... I strongly urge any parent to work with Kimberly, especially when a parent is confronted with recurring challenging interaction with your child."
- Mother and stepmother of four teenagers
""Thank you for believing in me, Kimberly! You made me realize that there is hope and I appreciate your sincerity and kindness.""
- Mom of 2 under 4