I learned from Patty Wipfler, who created Hand in Hand Parenting the invaluable skill of having an adult listening partner. In order to be able to listen to our children, we need a way to release our own feelings that get in the way of being present and meeting our kids’ needs. She has developed guidelines on how two adults can become successful listening partners for each other.
Each partnership sets up a listening time. Brain research shows that by releasing emotions with a skilled listener, our logical brain will function much better. No one makes good decisions when they are upset. This means we will be better able to handle stresses and find solutions whether they are about family, work, or personal concerns.
Your listening time can be done in person or by phone or Skype. Choose the amount of time that works for you. Even having a phone conversation where each person gets 5 – 10 minutes to vent will work wonders in allowing you to be calmer and more responsive to your children.
Go to www.handinhandparenting.org for the booklet Listening Partnerships for Parents for only $1.00. Here are the general guidelines for being an effective listening partner.
1. Show R – E – S – P – E – C – T
Believe in the speaker’s intelligence.
Your listening helps them solve their problems.
2. Give your full attention
Stay focused on the speaker’s thoughts and feelings.
Let go of personal thoughts triggered as you listen.
3. Don’t Interrupt
Let the speaker direct their thoughts and feelings.
Interrupting with questions bring the focus onto what YOU think is important.
4. No Advice
You are there to help the speaker “listen” to their OWN thoughts and feelings and find their OWN answers.
5. Encourage with Support
Empathize, hug, point out the speaker’s strengths.
Let them know you believe in them.
6. After: Keep Everything Confidential
Only the speaker brings up their topics after the listening session
You can do listening with your spouse or partner yet don’t complain about your partner at that time. You could also have a few listening partners.
Set up an agreement for emergency phone calls so you can call up and simply say, “I’m about to loose it with my kids. Can you just listen to me for 5 minutes. That’s all I need.” Being listened to releases your tensions in your limbic system, emotional center, so your pre-frontal cortex, thinking brain, will work much better.
How do you feel and think when you are listened to without judgement and unwanted advice?
I also teach parents how to listen to children. Here are articles to learn more.