Listening means keeping your advice to yourself…
After an hour of talking, in which I just reflected his feelings by saying, “I know, it’s hard, you must be feeling bad,” etc. he said, “Amma, I am feeling much better and lighter and do not feel so angry with everybody around me anymore”. A few days later he came and told me, “You know, after talking to you my headaches have stopped; I have not got even one after our chat.”
Listening has a powerful way of healing…
I was truly moved to experience the power of active listening. If we as parents just listen and accept a child’s feelings, many of their worries and troubles just vanish. We need not always try to correct them or teach them values. They know what is right. They only need an outlet for their negative feelings and guilt to come out. After truly listening if needed sometime later we can put across our point of view and they will be receptive to our guidance. It took a lot of effort for me to cultivate these skills but as I continue to use them I find my son far more relaxed and free of headaches till today.
You can actually guide your children more effectively by listening rather than talking!
ABOUT ACTIVE LISTENING:
Active listening is a tool written about by Thomas Gordon in his book Parent Effectiveness Training. Dr. Thomas Gordon pioneered the first structured parenting program – Gordon’s Parent Effectiveness Trainings in 1962. These programs are running all over the world today. This concept was found to be so powerful that it was adopted in classrooms and organizations to promote better communication.
Active listening is the key strategy for parents to develop a strong relationship with the child that is based on good communication.
The important ingredients of active listening are:
- To suspend your own thoughts and judgements and listen with complete attention.
- To be able to identify what the child is feeling and reflect back the feeling. E.g.: “So you felt bad, that must have been upsetting”. If you are able to reflect back the feeling the child feels encouraged to go on and share more with you about what he/she is going through.
- Reflecting also allows the child to confirm whether you have understood their message, and to give them a chance to correct you if you don’t.
- Active listening can only work when you genuinely want to hear what the child has to say and have a deep trust in the child’s capacity to work out solutions. Active listening will not always bring on the spot change but it may start a chain of events in which the conclusion may never be known to the parent because they may work out their own solution later on.
Benefits of active listening: