Well hello there. That was a mighty long break from the More Peaceful Parenting series, wasn't it?
Thank you for sticking around while I caught my breath and built my courage to take on this series again. I'm ready if you are.
For those of you who are new or who aren't looking for a new parenting paradigm, let me restate my intention here, just for clarity: This
series is for parents looking for ways to integrate more
connection-based peaceful parenting strategies into their relationships
with their children.
If if isn't resonant to you, then no sweat. Perhaps you have found
your perfect parenting fit. (Parenting, after all, is not a
But if you are in a place of struggle with your child, or if
you are searching for a bit more ease, or if some of the parenting
strategies you are using don't resonate anymore, this series is for you.
This is how we are striving to do things in our home. It is my goal as a mom to reach for deeper connection and to find peaceful ways to guide my children along this journey.
And you know, I'm
learning right along with you. And I don't always find the right fit either.
that's life, isn't it? We aren't perfect. But we're learning and growing
We began the Peaceful Parenting series last winter. I encourage you
to take a few days to re-read steps one through five. These will lay the
foundation and remind you of the journey we are on.
More Peaceful Parenting Step 1. Forgive, Accept, and Love Yourself.
More Peaceful Parenting Step 2. Identify the Need.
More Peaceful Parenting Step 3. Validate.
More Peaceful Parenting Step 4. Creating a Yes Environment.
More Peaceful Parenting Step 5. Your Mission Statement.
And now, finally! More Peaceful Parenting Step 6. Just Listen.
I want to restart with something so basic, so simple, that you are
doing it already.
The change I am suggesting today is for you to deepen and shift how you are listening to hear more than you did before. To truly listen. With all of your heart.
And when we start to listen (really listen) our child receives the message that they matter. That their feelings are valid. That they are valid.
How to listen to your child:
1. Focus on your child.
Kneel down so that you are at eye-level.
Make physical contact if that is what your child desires. Sometimes for my kids it's easiest to talk while we cuddle. Some crave eye contact, others withdraw from it.
Listen to their energy and give them what they need. But give them your focus.
2. Ignore external distractions.
Don't answer your phone. Shut off your computer. Create comfortable quiet where you can focus on their words and body language alone.
3. Quiet your inner distractions.
As parents many of us have a stop watch that is constantly ticking in our heads. We have a lot to do and sometimes not enough time to do it. Stop that clock.
The dishes and laundry will wait. Dinner will wait. Nap will wait. Take a deep healing breath and focus on this moment. Your presence means so much more than anything else that might be on your to-do list.
4. Hear the feelings underneath their words.
Let your child talk without interruption. Hear what they are saying, and seek to understand what they are not saying as well.
What is the feeling (or the need) at the heart of their expression?
5. Accept the feelings they are expressing as valid.
Avoid the temptation to soothe them with words that negate how they feel.
Instead of using words like "You're okay," or "It'll be fine," try reflecting back what you are hearing, "It hurts," or "You're very angry."
Remember that your work in this moment is not to fix anything. Just listen. Just really listen.
Following the steps above will give our children the message that we are really, truly listening and that their words matter.
We demonstrate that we aren't going to swoop in to try to fix it and we aren't going to tell them that they are wrong.
They will instead hear that it is safe to express all of their feelings to you – even the scary or ugly or overwhelming ones. And this will create connection between you that will serve you always.
From here we can work together to find a solution, empowering our child to step up and participate in that process.
But before solution there must be understanding.
Let's start by just listening.
11 thoughts on “More Peaceful Parenting Step 6. Just listen.”
I needed to read this today Rachel. Thank you. I have become a distracted listener lately and I know it. Good advice.
Me, too Michelle. Thank you.
Thank you for this wonderful reminder. I want to be a better listener to my children and husband. To truly listen and not be thinking all the while about everything that “needs” to get done.
a wonderful post with such clear relevant advice. We did this when our kids were small/younger, but when they became teenagers we took this to the next step and had family ‘conferences’ where you do more o r less the same thing, and listening is the key word here at all times in your childs life!
I think the struggle that I have with this is ‘when’? When is it appropriate to drop everything and really be present, is it better to set aside some time each day to make sure connection is possible or try to judge it which I find difficult. Which crisis is a real crisis and which is an ‘I’m tired, I need a snack’ type crisis, or a ‘my brother won’t bend to my will’ crisis! My eldest son loves to talk and I really want to listen but he seems to pick the worst moments to chat, such as when I’m speaking to someone else. I think that’s what I struggle with, with these types of paradigm shifts is they don’t feel specific enough, more philosophical and not practical you know? I really struggle with the balance of necessary work to keep things moving along and taking time to be present with my boys, our timetables often seem to conflict!
So happy to have you back with Peaceful Parenting – Well done courageous generous woman.
I decided that I needed to be more rhythm orientated and not so swayed by the children’s ups and downs ….. life is no easier and I am spinning – time to be connected.
For me Emmalina, I do it whenever I can but especially during moments of stress, anger, or anxiety. During the hard bits of the day. Sometimes the real crisis is that your little one need a nap or a snack but the big feeling that come out (in my opinion) should be heard as well. Cuddling in bed hearing how they feel for example, before nap. Carve out the time whenever you can to connect. Because a small dose of connection can save you time in the long-run if your kids are more balanced and stable. Less drama as the day goes on. Does this help?
Absolutely : ) It’s something I struggle with in times of pressure, when there is so much ‘grown up’ work to be done, the connection part can seem less of a priority. Yet time and time again I see that a small amount of focus ‘fills up’ my boys so that we are all able to find our own space for a while. I try to make time for them but it never seems enough, sometimes I’d love to just spend the whole day on the sofa with them, but a life of cooking wholefood meals, running a small farm and homeschooling seems to clash with this simple wish.
I agree that when the moment is most tense the need for connection is the most. Since my youngest was little I’ve taken to picking them up for a hug in that moment of screaming, losing it type behaviour, something my dad used to do when I was little : ) But I think I sometimes forget, in my own business, that to give them my full attention is the most important of my jobs. Good reminder and thanks for thoughtful reply : )
Thank you for your insight into raising children. I have a daughter who just turned five, and she is the love of my life. I have a lifelong illness that results in my being in physical pain 24 hours a day…needless to say, this makes it difficult to give my daughter my full attention as she deserves. I find that I often tell her no to something because I am not feeling well, but I have to work on reaching within and finding the inspiration to step up to the plate. After all, I will not feel well either way, so I might as well enjoy the time with her 🙂