Listening Skill #3: Reflecting
What I mean by saying that “reflecting” is a listening skill is. The parent acts like a mirror verbally stating the emotion that she (the parent) thinks the child is experiencing, or the meaning she thinks the child is expressing. Example: “So, you are feeling angry.” Or, “I think you are saying you don’t want to go, is that right?” Or, “Gee, that must have been embarrassing.”. More examples are given below.
This means repeating back the exact words that the child said, even if you don’t agree with what he is saying.
- Example A: He yells, “You’re wrong, mom!”
You parrot back, “I’m wrong.” Or, you might say “You think I’m wrong.” THEN STOP! Don’t say anything more. See what the child comes back with.
- Example B: She says, “I feel lousy.” You parrot back, “You feel lousy.” THEN STOP! Don’t ask, “You feel lousy?” Just say it: “You feel lousy.” See what the child comes back with.
- Example A: He says, “I keep on telling you you don’t know what you’re talking about. You always get on my case whenever you can and never give me credit for doing anything right. You’re so stupid I can’t even believe it.”You paraphrase back to him, “You think I’m really stupid because I’m always on your case and don’t know what I’m talking about.” THEN STOP! Don’t ask a question here. Don’t ask a question, unless it is, “Is that right?” See what the child comes back with.
- Example B: She says, “I just don’t know what to do with him. He’s always trying to make me mad. He takes my toys away and then swears at me and calls me names when I try to get them back, and he never apologizes. And still he always says I’m the one who treats him bad. He’s so stupid!”You paraphrase back to her, in your own words: “He’s really disrespecting you a lot and you don’t know what to do.” THEN STOP! Don’t ask a question here, unless it is, “Is that right?” See what the child comes back with.
- In example 1A above, where he’s yelling angrily, you might say, “You’re mad at me.”
- In example 1B above, you might say, “You’re feel hurt (or bad).”
- In example 2A above, you might say, “You’re really upset with me.”
- In example 2B above, you might say, “You’re really frustrated and confused about what to do.”
- You have accurately heard them (even if you don’t accurately understand their meaning);
- You have not judged them;
- You’re inviting them to say more;
- You’re open to them correcting you if you are wrong;
- How to behave respectfully toward others (including you).
- If other listening techniques do not elicit an informative response from the child, your Reflecting response is a statement that YOU make about THEM, that requires no response. It indicates you heard and acknowledge what they said. For example, she says nothing at all, or she says, “It’s none of your business,” or “I’m not going to tell you.” You make an interpretation that puts no demand on her. Instead you just communicate your understanding of her state of mind at that moment by saying something like, “You’re done talking,” or “You don’t want to talk about it.” Since you can’t force her to talk, you might as well let her know that you understand she doesn’t want to talk. Chances are good that she’ll feel more like talking with you later on, when she’s feeling less angry or stressed or fearful.
- If she refuses to play ball with you, and walks away instead of talking, your response could be, “I understand. You don’t want to talk now” You are simply aknowledging that she doesn’t want to talk to you right now. Let her go. You can bring up the subject again later, when she and you are both in a better mood.
3 Steps to Parent-Child Harmony is my book that describes in detail the differences between the Old School Parenting model and the New School Parenting model. Please see these links if you are interested in more information or wish to purchase.