Listen to your children and teens is the core of the Parental Intelligence Way. When you are puzzled by their behavior or shaken by their emotions like anxiety or anger, the key is to understand what is on their minds by listening nonjudgementally, attentively, and lovingly. Here are some tips to help them talk:
- Ask “What’s the matter?”
- Let the child or teen talk until they are finished without interruption
- Ask them to tell you even more
- Then ask if they see other perspectives
- Volunteer your perspectives
- Discuss the alternative ways of looking at the problem
- Once you know what underlies the problem, anxiety, or anger, then you can collaborate and problem solve together.
This kind of listening leads to deep parent-child relationships beginning early on. If you find you don’t reach a solution first time round, decide to take a break and talk later or another day. It’s common for parents to want to give solutions quickly to resolve their child’s disappointment, disillusionment, worry, anxiety, or anger but sometimes it takes a few meetings together. Your child will know you care because you’re willing to listen as long as they need to talk.
Sometimes kids act out what they need because they don’t know how to explain themselves in words. Again, don’t judge the behavior, ask about it. Tell them you’re concerned and want to listen and listen some more. Kids come around when parents stay calm and contain themselves while their child is anxious or angry. In fact, it’s very important to bear your child’s powerful anxieties and angry words, so the child doesn’t feel more powerful than you. Children can be frightened by their strong emotions and when they see their parent isn’t scared,too, they begin to talk.
Learning the Parental Intelligence Way is an art, not a science. But with practice and reading about many parents’ experiences with the 5 steps, it becomes a natural way of solving problems in the family. Very early on when Parental Intelligence is used, you will find that your kids are good thinkers, reasoners, compromisers, see alternatives, and are empathic with others including you!