How often do you shout at your child?
Does your child ever shout at you?
Why does listening matter so much anyway??
Your job as a parent has always been to keep your child safe and to teach them the important things so that they can be independent and make their own way in life. In many many ways you are best placed to do this because you are older and wiser than they are. In fact I can remember my mother on many occasions telling me to learn from her mistakes. It was as if I didn’t really need to experience things for myself I could should just avoid making any mistakes she had.
Sounds really simple doesn’t it? Just tell your child what the mistakes are and tell them not to make them – no need for any discussion. And if they make a mistake, reprimand them and tell them not to do it again.
Except we know that it doesn’t work like that at all. We, as humans, seem to have a need to experience everything for ourselves. It’s just the way we learn most of the time – through experience not through being told. In addition some of the most important things we learn are through the painful mistakes we make.
For you, as a parent, that’s really hard. You don’t want your child making painful mistakes. You want them to be best person they can, be successful and be happy.
I have had many experiences over the years that have put me back in a place of feeling like a berated child, not being listened to at all. I have had reason to point out to a professional health practitioner that they had been extremely rude to my teenage daughter. I was at pains to point out that I understood his professional point of view but that I also objected to the rude way in which he had barked it at her. Several emails have been batted to and fro. All I can conclude is that he cannot separate his professional opinion from his manner. It has left me feeling that he is not prepared or able to listen to what I or my daughter have really said. I feel a bit less confident in him and I feel resentful. I am not going to be able to avoid this man and am now imagining that there will be some kind of conflict at the next appointment!
It also made me think that this situation could be superimposed onto many parent – child arguments. Put yourself in the position of the health professional. You absolutely believe that you are right and there’s no need for any kind of discussion. You may be right. What your child hears and feels is that their opinion is worthless.
In contrast many years ago I visited a homeopath. Because it was so long ago I can’t tell you what we discussed or what she gave me. But I can tell you that for the very first time I had felt properly listened to and my viewpoint had been acknowledged. I have no idea whether she agreed with me and I know now that that wasn’t important on that day. I felt that my view was important and that was extremely empowering. I visited that homeopath every couple of months for about 20 years until she retired. When I think about those visits I still smile.
Now put yourself in the position of my homeopath. You don’t have to agree or battle with your child In fact there will be times when you don’t. But you can listen without judging or interrupting or having to think of an answer. Sometimes it’s enough to acknowledge. If you don’t listen to them they will eventually find someone who does and that may not be someone who is helpful or safe.
Small children can be difficult to reason with I know. But here’s the thing, when they are angry they are also unreasonable. They simply cannot process things because their emotions are overwhelming. So just don’t.
Wait for them to calm down. Hug them and reassure them. Or just let the storm blow itself out – because it will.
There are many many reasons why children get angry and shout at us. If you feel it is becoming a problem and you are worried book them into my At Home Calm Caterpillars Classes. It’s a very special group where children learn to talk about how they feel and techniques for relaxation.