(p. 17, Love and Logic Magic When Kids Leave You Speechless, by Jim and Charles Fay)
We all want alife-long positive relationships with our kids. Sincere empathy is a relationship saver. Kids aren't manipulating all the time. Sometimes they are genuinely struggling or hurting and need an understanding listener (even in the midst of discipline.) This book suggests 3 steps for using empathy. (p. 19)
- Listen to what your child says and try to imagine how you might feel in the same predicament. (Keep your mouth shut during this step.)
- Use a phrase which describes what you think they must be feeling. "This is really FRUSTRATING." " You must be so ANGRY." Or, "It sounds like you are really HAPPY about ______.
- Repeat steps one and 2 as often as needed.
When you use this technique, you are not trying to fix a problem or find a solution. You are just listening and communicating that you understand the feeling. That's important!
Child: All the girls in my class hate me
Mom: (imagining how that feels). That must really hurt.
Child (crying): It does. I hate school.
Mom: You hate it and it makes you sad too.
Child: I am sad.
Mom: I am so sorry.
In some textbooks you'll see this describes as "Reflective Listening" because the listener "reflects" the other persons emotion back at them like a mirror. It works amazing at home and work and with lots of other relationships as well.