I wholeheartedly stand behind the belief that through our interactions with children we can learn how to behave respectfully to our surroundings; patience, kindness, and acceptance should be shown to all.
So, picking up this book at the library (where I coincidentally discovered the shelf full of psychology reads I’m about to devour!!) felt like the natural next step in learning more about our methods of communication. Also, I have a nine-year-old sister at home who I want to feel like she’s being listened to as an equal, which is where this book came in handy.
How can I express my honest feelings in a way that will make it possible for the other person to hear me and even consider what I have to say?
I was beyond keen on making sure I’d implement the many useful pieces of advice offered in this quick read: The emphasis put on simply listening and making sure they know you’re on their side, the importance of acknowledging the kid’s emotions and not brushing them off, accusing vs. describing feelings, giving tips on problem-solving, being conscious in your word choice because truth without morality is not truth. Like this brilliant quote I read from Haim Ginott:
“Truth for its own sake can be a deadly weapon in family relations. Truth without compassion can destroy love. Some parents try too hard to prove exactly how, where and why they have been right. This approach will bring bitterness and disappointment. When attitudes are hostile, facts are unconvincing.”
These instances helped me understand the best:
- Why our “natural” response tends to minimize their emotions:
“I also think it’s natural,” I said, “for parents to push away painful or upsetting feelings. It’s hard for us to listen to our teenagers express their confusion or resentment or disappointment or discouragement. We can’t bear to see them unhappy. So it’s with the best of intentions that we dismiss their feelings and impose our adult logic. We want to show them the ‘right’ way to feel.”
The ultimate goal of a parent is to reach the stage where their kid will have the confidence to listen to themselves and make responsible choices on their own.
“That’s the big challenge,” I said. “To shift our thinking from ‘how do I fix things?’ to ‘how do I enable my kids to fix things for themselves?’ ”
- On the negative connotations of punishment; opting to use alternatives such as #1 State your feelings. #2 State your expectations. #3 Show how to make amends. #4 Offer a choice. #5 Take action.”
“When you punish a kid, you close the door on him. He’s got no place to go. It’s a done deal. But when you take action, the kid might not like the action, but the door is still open. He still has a chance. He can face up to what he did and try to fix it. He can turn a ‘wrong’ into a ‘right.’ ”
Also: the four-panel comics really brought the ideas to life:
Instead of Angry Reprimands …
When Praising Kids
Instead of Evaluating …
- “Feelings matter. Not just your own, but those of people with whom you disagree.
- Civility matters. Anger can be expressed without insult.
- Words matter. What you choose to say can cause resentment or generate goodwill.
- Punishment has no place in a caring relationship. We’re all people in process—capable of making mistakes and capable of facing our mistakes and making amends.
- Our differences needn’t defeat us. Problems that seem insoluble can yield to respectful listening, creativity, and persistence.
- We all need to feel valued. Not only for who we are now, but for who we can become.”
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