Please click on this link Handout List to view the contents of the course “Calming the Explosive Volcano.”
You will notice that the hand outs are divided into three sections:
1. Old School and New School Parenting;
2. Listening and Other Relationship Skills for Parents;
3. Use Listening to Co-create Agreements.
Listening is the only way help calm an erupting volcano, hard as it might be. The real value in using the listening skills/techniques presented in this course and the hand outs is that they empower the parent to reach agreements about how the child will behave the next time s/he becomes frustrated and would ordinarily fly into a rage, a tantrum, or angry meltdown. You can’t put the cork back in the champagne bottle once is bubbling over, and you can’t reason with a child during an explosive eruption. But you CAN use the parent’s “magic wand” (listening skills) help the child think through his/her problem and come to an agreement with you about a better way to deal with a frustrating situation the next time it occurs. This can be done with children as young as two years and adults as well.
For a detailed presentation of the 9 key relationship skills needed in all healthy adult-adult or parent-child relationships, see the details of my book, 3 Steps to Parent-Child Harmony.
How to Talk Respectfully (And Invite Respectful Responses) Illustrating Skill #3
An I-message is a message in which I tell you something about myself, like “I thought it was best for me to leave when I did.” Or, “I left when I did because I didn’t want to be late for my appointment.” Or, “I left when I did because I was feeling uncomfortable.” It amounts to a bit of self-disclosure. The subject of the sentence is always “I.”
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 technique is eferred to as “Active Listening” by Thomas Gordon, who really emphasizes it in his writings and training classes. I prefer the term “reflecting” because my two other listening skills (acknowledging and asking questions) require the parent to actively communicate with the child.
This “reflecting” technique or skill is the most unusual and therefore perhaps the most difficult of the three listening skills. At first, it seems like a very unnatural way to respond to somebody, but the effect it often has is to encourage the child to say more about what they just said. This is what you want–that the child gets the idea that you are “tuned in” and want to hear more of his ideas on the topic being discussed.
Reflecting statements always mirror back to the child what they said or seem to be communicating non-verbally. They are always statements. They are not to be delivered as questions. If you choose, you might follow the statement with a question to verify accuracy of what you said.
Reflecting statements are not opinions of your own. They are you, simply mirroring what the other is communicating, verbally or non-verbally. They do not mean you agree with what the child said! They only mirror back what the child communicated.