This last weekend was a rare treat: five days of solo time with G-, my 8yo son, and it was a delight. Five days of “dude time” with lots of bonding. We both really had a great weekend, and a busy one too, including hanging out with friends watching the final match of the Euro 2008 soccer competition.
Most of the time, of course, A-, my 11yo, and K-, my 4yo, are in the mix too, and while they all get along pretty well in the big picture, there are unquestionably moments when they aren’t communicating clearly or their individual needs are, um, blinding them to the more harmonious path. (Did I phrase that elegantly enough?)
Having a weekend without siblings in the picture was therefore a great break for G- and he really dug it. For once in a blue moon, we just did what he wanted to do (mostly!) and it went very smoothly.
What I noticed during the weekend too was the power and value of reflective listening. A few times we started down the path of a disagreement and each time I was able to sidestep it by repeating to him what I heard him saying, as a way of clarifying that not only did I really hear what he was saying but that I respected his viewpoint too.
And so, a tip to those of you reading this: a little reflective listening can do wonders to help your children feel like they are honored members of the family unit.
If you’re not sure what reflective listening is, it’s when you repeat back to someone what you heard them say. You don’t respond to their comment, you say “Okay, I hear you saying that you really want X because of Y and Z, right?”
It’s a very good listening technique and great helps communication with anyone, of course, it’s hardly limited to children, but after this weekend, I am even more convinced that it can really help children feel empowered and valued in a way that’s not just good for their souls but great for your overall level of peace and happiness in your family.
Now, repeat after me, “What I just read that you wrote is….”