A parent who wants to be heard must be prepared to listen before confronting.
Parents are inclined to focus only on the unacceptable behaviour of children and then repremand, using you- messages.
We need to know the difference between a you-message and an I-message.
You-messages put children down, using blaming, nagging, accusing, threatening, comparing, inducing guilt, commanding, lecturing, moralising. Every sentence starts with “You..”
What do children learn from you-messages?
Children who hear too many you-messages begin to feel discouraged. They may fight back, feel worthless, stop listening. You-messages can lower self-esteem, don’t teach children to cooperate, and are discouraging. Children tend to tune-out and become parent-deaf when they hear their parents repeating the same old tune over and over again.
Parents become desperate, frustrated and angry when their child consistently are defiant, oppositional and not helping. If it continues for a long period of time the parent start “labelling” a particular child as lazy, “bad” etc.
An I-message shows respect.
It focuses on you, and not on the child. You’re simply telling how you feel.
An I-message has three parts:
- Tell what is happening; Tell what you feel; Explain why you feel that way.
What do children learn from I-messages?
It helps children hear what their actions mean to you; They hear a way to talk about problems without blaming;They learn to share feelings in a way that can help solve problems; It shows respect for your child. It shows that you expect cooperation.
I-messages are reflective such as the following:
- “I can see that you’re angry, but throwing things is not okay. I’ll be in the kitchen if you’d like to talk about it.”
- “You’re disappointed. You don’t think I’m being fair. But I can’t …….”
To listen reflectively, start by using the words “You feel” before the feeling, and “because” to tell the reason for the feeling. Describe the feeling as exactly as you can. Words like “a little” or “very” will help you here:
If your child tries to argue, leave the room. When your child’s mood is better, do something fun together. When we respond in this way, children may not be any happier, but they learn that their feelings are still okay – even when their actions aren’t
You have seen how reflective listening and talking go together. You listen for feelings. Then you give feedback.
Let’s look at how to tell your child about your feelings.
When you have a problem with your child, you need to talk about it. When you do, share your feelings respectfully such as:
“ I feel disappointed if….. and will really appreciate if….”
“ I feel annoyed if……. and prefer if…”