I Love You So Big! Blog – Lynne Namka, © 2011-14
“So think as if your every thought were to be etched in fire upon the sky for all and everything to see. For so, in truth, it is. So speak as if the world entire were but a single ear intent upon hearing what you say. For so, in truth, it is.So do as if your every deed were to recoil upon your head. For so, in truth, it is. So wish as if you were the truth. And so, in truth, you are.” – Mikhail Nimay, Book of Mirdad
Listen to yourself, your spouse and other members of your household. What is the quality of the ways you speak to each other? If there are sharp tongues, sarcasm and loud tones in your household, your child will use the same kind of talk. Children act out what they hear in the home. You can’t expect your child to be loving if you or someone else in your home is critical and rude. If you or someone else in the family is constantly irritable or angry, then take responsibility for it and get some professional help. Parent to child anger and vice versa gets worse during the teen years. Yeah, if it is broke, fix it.
If you want to have a peaceful household, it is absolutely imperative that family members learn some cool down techniques to deal with anger.
If you want to have a peaceful household, it is absolutely imperative that family members learn some cool down techniques to deal with anger. Talk to your family about stopping the sharp tongues and sarcasm. Tell them you are starting a new family tradition of learning to express anger in safe, appropriate ways.
Learn to bite your tongue and fire up your Inner Censor when you are having a “Teen Intensive Day.” Stop yourself from blurting out whatever comes to your mind. Do some isolation yourself to get away when it becomes too challenging. Teach your child Chill Out Words Helper Words by modeling them yourself when you are upset.
- I can handle this. I tell myself to calm down.
- I remind myself to breathe deeply and cool down.
- I’ll take a moment to chill. I’ll turn my hot thoughts down.
- I’d better take a time out and go somewhere to reflect on this.
- My bad feelings come and go. I can let them go if I share them.
- It is okay to be angry. I can talk about my anger.
Keep telling your child that they are responsible for how they think. They can learn and use more productive ways of thinking that will empower them. Your own use use of cool-down words when you are upset gives your child positive messages to carry around when you are not present. You model the very behavior that you want from your child. The small amount of time that you spend in teaching your child chill down statements will save you from time spent on reprimands.
Speak with love when you discipline your children. More parenting information is available at www.angriesout.com. Learn more about helping your child with angry feelings from my article A Letter to Parents of Children with Problems of Anger.
I Love You So Big! Blog – Lynne Namka, © 2011-13
“Children need love even when they don’t deserve it!” – Anonymous parent (In truth, we all deserve love, even if we made a mistake.)
Business management experts, Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson in The One Minute Mother and The One Minute Father give a great parenting technique which is a take off from their business model of managing people. Their reprimand process helps YOU break into your mean-spirited anger and lengthy tirades. This one-minute approach puts a time limit on your own anger outburst and encourages your child to do better next time. It bypasses blame and punishment, which do not work to change behavior, and leaves your child thinking. Thinking about what he or she did wrong and how to correct it, instead of becoming angry! The One Minute Reprimand builds self-esteem in your child while you are correcting him. What a novel idea!
The One Minute Reprimand holds you to a one-minute correction procedure and gives the child a compliment so that he does not tune out. Brilliant!
Limiting your anger by using this technique will help you break into the most breakdowns in parent/child relationships–parent deafness! Kids learn to shut out long lecturing parents! Shutting out what we do not want to hear is normal human behavior. The One Minute Reprimand holds you to a one-minute correction procedure and gives the child a compliment so that he does not tune out. Brilliant! Get one of these books immediately and commit this technique to memory!
The One-Minute Reprimand (My slightly modified version of the Blanchard and Johnson technique)
- Tell your child beforehand that you are going to let him know how he is to do in no uncertain terms.
- Reprimand your child immediately. Tell him specifically what he did wrong in one sentence.
- Tell him how disappointed, upset, sad, frustrated, angry you are.
- Stop and let it sink in. Allow a half moment of uncomfortable silence where he gets how you feel. If he starts to get defensive or angry, say, “Hold on. I’m not finished yet.”
- Reach out to your child physically in a friendly manner. Shake hands, pat him on the back, or touch him in a way that lets him know that you are on his side despite your upset feelings at his behavior.
- Remind him how much you value him, what a cool person he is, etc.
- Reaffirm that you think well of him, but not his behavior. (You area a great kid who messed up!)
- Remind him that you realize he will make a better choice next time.
- Let it go. No lectures. No more. Just stop. Realize when the reprimand is over, it’s over. End the correction with a positive! Change the subject. Give a smile, a hug or an acknowledgement. Leave the room with him scratching his head wondering where his formerly acting out parent had gone. End the talk with you believing in your child and his ability to make good choices. (Smiling, not moralizing.)
Get your own copy of The One Minute Mother and The One Minute Father Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson. These small books are invaluable for your parenting library. They can be found online at most bookstores that feature used books at a small price.
I Love You So Big! Blog – Lynne Namka, © 2011-13
“You don’t always get what you want. You don’t always get what you want … You get what you need.” – Line from a Rolling Stones song
Children and their feelings and their tempers! Do you have a kid who is super sensitive who blows up every time you say “no”, which is numerous times a day because he constantly asks for ridiculous things. Welcome to the teen years! If you have more than one offspring, chances are one child will have the mindset of gimme gimme. The children that learn to beg successfully and wear their parents down grow up to be telemarketers.
Do you have a demanding child who is super sensitive who blows up every time you say NO. You need a different set of parenting skills to deal with this challenging type of youngster.
You need a different set of parenting skills to deal with this challenging type of youngster. So here is the basic philosophy that could come from your mouth to teach your demanding child about the realities of the cold, hard world.
“How happy you are is related to how you think about things. Life is a series of decisions that are based on your goals. You could have a goal to get a new “whatever.” You could put your energy in demanding you get it. Perhaps you do. Are you any happier or is that material goal just replaced by a new demand – you expect a new “whatever.” An important goal is to get a better life for yourself. Focus on what works that you can control to get this happy life.
So, darling child of mine, here it is in a nutshell: Sometimes you can get what you want. Sometimes you don’t. Tough beans. That’s life. If you interpret things more realistically, you will be more likely to get what is important to you. Behavior is a product of thinking! How you think determines how you react. See things how they are instead of insisting your expectations be met on how you want them to be. Learn this well and you will save yourself a lot of grief.
Often the failure to get what you want is a result of unrealistic expectations and faulty thinking. Thoughts mess you up! Thoughts go into feelings, which then go into actions. Sometimes you distort your perceptions and make assumptions that are not really true. Assumptions are merely speculations you make up in your mind. Here is a newsflash! Modify your thinking and you will feel and act differently.
Analyze the situation. What did you want to have happen? Is it a realistic outcome given the other person’s point of view? Is it an attainable outcome given the other person’s wants and needs? Why should you get what you are demanding?
Ask, “What are you choosing to do to make what you want happen?
How could you have acted to make your desired outcome more likely?
Is what you are doing helping or hurting your chances of getting what you want?
Have your unrealistic expectations hijacked your common sense?
At times, the failure to get what you want is based on your misperceptions and expectations of other people. You look through dark sunglasses and distort what is really there.
Did you get what you wanted?
What did you do?
What happened then? Evaluate your thinking and your actions. Did you get what you wanted?
Did your actions get you closer to your goal?
Did your thinking get you what you wanted?
Did your interpretations and expectations help you get to where you want to go?
Did your anger or victim thoughts take you off course from your goal?
Let’s make a plan. How could you think differently so that you could be happier with yourself?
Are you willing to make a commitment to yourself to act in ways that are in your best interests?”
After finishing this list, reach out and hug your child. The sense of touch is so important to a child in their feeling like they truly belong to the family. Being touched through gentle pats, hugs, high fives and smile give children a sense of security. So, as the song says, “Reach out and touch someone.”
We all need a little TLC. Reach out with love to show your child that your love is SO BIG!
Read Aw, Man! Why Can’t I Have What I Want? The High-Demand Child and Children of Entitlement at my website at www.angriesout.com.
I Love You So Big! Blog – Lynne Namka, © 2011-13
“I believe in the sun even when it’s not shining. I believe in love even when not feeling it. I believe in God Even when He is silent.” – Anonymous
Intentional Dialogue is a process of communication that you and your partner can learn to create an atmosphere of safety. It is also a great way to validate your child and help him or her open up more. Using this communication tool with your partner really helps him or her feel safe and listened too. It works if it is done right to recreate that sense of connection that healthy families have.
Empathy is the greatest gift you can give your partner when he or she is hurting. It helps a person be seen and feel totally understood.
What we all really want is to be understood and accepted for whom we are. To really live in Conscious Relationship, in my opinion, Intentional Dialogue is the best tool for keeping love alive. Having someone really listen to you is as close to unconditional love we can get in our lifetime. Empathy is the greatest gift you can give your partner when he or she is hurting. It helps a person be seen and feel totally understood. The childhood wounds no longer are so deep when we are truly heard and understood.
A recipe for having a loving relationship equals commitment, learning powerful, how-to-stay-connected techniques during times of stress and darn hard work. This formula is doable for those determined to be happy in relationship. The Imago Therapy Tools help you keep the love you want and become a responsible, loving adult secure in the knowledge that you are truly seen and heard.
Here is the short version of the three steps of Hendrix’s Intentional Dialogue:
- Mirror back what your child said and ask for more. This shows your child that you are willing to take the time to truly listen to him. It is an active listening technique which forces you to pay attention instead of planning a retort or a correction.
- Validate his message by saying that it makes sense from his point of view. You don’t have to agree with what your child says. You do have to walk in his footsteps about this issue and see it from his point of view. “Given who you are and where you are coming from, I can understand why you would think this way.
- Empathize and guess his feelings. When you take it to a feeling level, your child will feel more understood and most likely will stop feeling hurt and angry. If you don’t guess the correct feelings, chances are your child will correct you.
If you have a youngster who doesn’t talk much, you still have the opportunity for letting him or her know what you stand for. Talk with your friends about what you value (not what you do not like in young people) where your child will over hear you. Or talk out loud to yourself. Remember the saying, “Little pitchers have big ears?” Children are natural eavesdroppers. Share your feelings and your joys and frustrations about life. Comment out loud about role models and the inappropriateness of some commercials. Talk about the important family values that you want to impart to your child. If he or she has a friend that is more talkative, engage them in conversation so that your child can overhear positive ideas. Ask for their perspective on issues and get your own opinions known.
Here’s a popular quote to be passed on from my teacher, Virginia Satir whose legacy on the web is at http://www.satirglobal.org:
“I believe the greatest gift I can conceive of having from anyone is to be seen, heard, understood and touched by them. The greatest gift I can give is to see, hear, understand and touch another person. When this is done, I feel contact has been made.” – Virginia Satir
I Love You So Big! Blog – Lynne Namka, © 2011-13
“The FREEDOM to see and hear what is here, instead of what should be, was, or will be. The FREEDOM to say what you feel and think, instead of what you should. The FREEDOM to feel what you feel, instead of what you ought. The FREEDOM to ask for what you want, instead of always waiting for permission. The FREEDOM to take risks in your own behalf, instead of choosing to be only “secure” and not rock the boat.” – Virginia Satir
One of the best things you can teach your children is how to be a loving human being. Partners and families sometimes fall out of love. Harville Hendrix gives you guideline on how to get the love back. Remember when you first fell in love with your partner and how the world was so rosy and your partner was simply wonderful? And how you felt deeply connected and understood? Ahh, the joys of the early part of relationship.
Imago Therapy presents safe ways of relating to each other that helps both partners feel heard and understood by the other and moving toward creating a spiritually conscious union.
What we really want is to be truly understood. And to be really seen by the person we care about. To find someone who can read our minds and meet our needs. To find true love and intimacy that lasts a lifetime. To be loved unconditionally by our partner. To get the “Happy Ever After” promised by fairy tales. We want love especially when we are angry and wounded by our partner.
We want to work through the unfinished childhood agenda with our partner. We want to stay in that euphoric space of new love. But despite our deep longing to be connected with the one we choose to be with, it rarely happens. Most often, when one partner is angry, the other person becomes angry back or shuts down. During conflict, the two partners disconnect from each other. The relationship suffers as people become disillusioned with their partner. The two people may even secretly start to look for exits from the relationship. Common exits are addictions, silence and withdrawal, increased fighting, self blame and depression, anxiety and threatening to leave the relationship.
The main purpose of a committed love relationship is to become a responsible loving adult and complete unresolved childhood issues says Harville Hendrix, Getting the Love You Want–a Guide for Couples and Keeping the Love You Find -a Guide for Singles. Hendrix’s approach, more than any other current marriage counseling model, helps couples move their union towards a Conscious Relationship.
Hendrix fashioned the name Imago Therapy to illustrate how we fall in love with the image that we put on another person. And we fall in love with those chemicals that the rush of new love brings. You have heard that love is blind? We don’t see the real person, imperfections and all, but we put our illusion of what we expect in a romantic relationship on the other person. Later, when the bloom goes off the romance, we have to deal with what the person is really like.
Imago Therapy teaches major tools of communication and connection to bond people who love each other together. Blaming, criticizing, withdrawing and pouting are the common distancing defenses in relationships. The big challenge for a happy relationship is to stop using these destructive defenses! We can replace these negative defenses with actions that keep us in partnership even when times get rough.
“We all got wounded in relationship as children with our parents and siblings,” Bonnie Brinkman, Imago Therapist, explains. “The healing can only come in relationship. We need our partners for this. The old mom and dad stuff becomes the template for selecting a partner. We choose people to be in relationship with that represents the best and worst of our parents. The psyche holds an unconscious agenda to select the right person who can help us heal. Hendrix says that our partner, with all of their frustration about us has the blueprint for our healing.”
The heart of Imago Therapy is to use the relationship to mend the pain of being hurt and disappointed in childhood. Brinkman continues, “We are the walking wounded. Our partner holds the blueprint for our healing and growth. The elegance of this process is that we heart flutter over only a few people in the entire world. We fall in like with some of them and then find a person to fall in love with and hook up with. We unconsciously pick the perfect partner to help us do the growing up work. God, the Universe, Fate or whatever you call it helps us zero in on that perfect partner who will push our buttons so we can get on with our work. There are no accidents why we get together with the person we choose out of all the millions of potential partners. The one we choose is someone who is familiar to us–we have met aspects of them before in our mother and father. That sets the stage for doing the work of growing past our present defenses.”
In the Power Struggle stage of relationships, the partners become stuck in trying to tell the other what to do and gathering data to make the other person wrong, at least in their own eyes. Conflict sends grownups, back into the defenses of their little child. There can be wounding if each person knows the trigger points of the other and goes for them pulling forth the defenses they learned as a child. In power struggles, nobody wins. But as the saying goes from A Course in Miracles, “Would you rather be right or happy?”
According to Brinkman, there are four options that happen in relationships where there are unresolved power struggles
1. Adios! Start the cycle over. Find someone new with whom to move through chemical soup into power struggles.
2. Have a silent divorce. Stay together for religious or financial reasons or fear of being alone and become roommates with passion for life atrophying.
3. Become the Bickersons and fight over everything, constantly injuring each other emotionally.
4. Start to cooperate with the unconscious agenda and use the volatile situations for growth. Learn techniques to stay connected during conflict and practice reconnection. This is the “becoming a grownup stage” called The Reality Love Stage.
Making Your Relationship Conscious
The next stage is The Reality Love Stage of relationship where we are presented with many challenging opportunities to use each other to put the childhood pain to rest. Like everything we have a fight – there is another growth opportunity. But of course, it is an opportunity only if we choose to make it one. Some couples never reach this stage, switching partners when fighting get too toxic.
A new set of relationship skills and tools are needed to get the Reality Love Stage. Moving past the Power Struggle stage, the couple begins to realize that not only is their job to grow up but their other job is to help their partner grow up. Imago Therapy presents safe ways of relating to each other that helps both partners feel heard and understood by the other. It provides a process to travel the path of creating a spiritually conscious union.
Intentional Dialogue – A Way to Keep Connected During Arguments
Intentional Dialogue gives you a process of obtaining The Five Freedoms and the ability to have intimacy that Virginia Satir, pioneer in family therapy talked about. What creates intimacy? What we really want is to be heard and feel safe with our partner. Hendrix’s technique of Intentional Dialogue is a way of relating to your partner when he or she is upset by something that you did. It is a process that keeps the contact going even in times of feeling threat and stress – IT KEEPS THE COUPLE CONNECTED EVEN WHEN THEY DISAGREE! Intentional Dialogue gives the partner the love and attention they need when they most need it.
Sound good? Well you can get it! You and your partner can find the Happy Ever After, after all. That is one of the greatest gifts you can give your children – parents who work together to keep the kindness and love going in their relationship.
But – it takes learning a process of active listening and hard work. It takes resolution from both partners to do Intentional Dialogue when friction starts to build up. It takes being able to be vulnerable and stomach some uncomfortable feelings. It takes you out of your comfort zone into really being REAL! Ouch! It requires listening and talking from the open heart; now that is scary stuff. The payoff is that you and your partner become a team actively working though the rough spots in your relationship. It makes you conscious in your relationship. You can actually feel closer with your partner after an argument when you stick to the dialogue.
And the technique works in all relationships, not only in romantic relationships. It even works with adolescents! I highly recommend Hendrix and his wife, Helen Hunt’s book on parenting, Giving the Love That Heals.
Want more ideas to help create a healthy, happy family? I carry on my teacher, Virginia Satir’s ideas on creating functional families. Go to my www.angriesout.com web site and scroll down to the articles listed under COUPLES. You will find the latest research on how to achieve happiness in your relationship which is then passed down to security and self-esteem in your children.
I Love You So Big! Blog – Lynne Namka, © 2011-13
“I wove my webs for you because I liked you. After all, what’s a life, anyway? We’re born, we live a little while, we die … By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heavens knows anyone’s life can stand a little of that.” - Charlotte from the book Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
Harville Hendrix and his wife Helen Hunt have written two excellent books for parents called Getting the Love that Heals: a Guide for Parents and The Parent’s Companion: Meditations and Exercises for Giving the Love that Heals. Every home should have one of these books in their parenting library. Here are the three steps from their great communication enhancer called Intentional Dialogue.
- Mirroring, Validate and Empathize are the three crucial steps from their great communication enhancer called Intentional Dialogue. Practice these step with your children and other to encourage honest, open communication.
1. MIRRORING: Parrot or paraphrase your child’s message back showing you got their viewpoint. Mirroring connects you with your child. It helps her feel like you are on the same wavelength as she is.
- Let me see if I got this right . . .
- I heard you say . . .
- So you said…
- Let me see if I understood this….
Then ask her for more. Get to the bottom of everything there is to be said about the topic. After you paraphrase, ask.
- Is there more?
- Tell me more about that.
- Anything else?
- Did I get it all?
Listen and repeat, and ask for more information is the basis of mirroring. Repeat what your child says until she wears her idea out. If you don’t get it right and she feels safe with you, she will clarify the message for you. Keep it going until the topic is exhausted for her.
2. VALIDATE what she has said: Validating is not agreeing with what your child says. It is accepting her feelings as being his true feelings. It is seeing it from her point of view. It is walking the mile in her shoes and understanding from her perspective. Never tell your child that she should not feel a certain way. Feelings are normal. Expressing them and being heard and validated by someone else often helps the excesses of emotion go away. Having someone hear you and not judge you allows a safe release of pent up feelings. Remember the research that said that most kids act out because they do not feel heard and validated by adults.
Listen to your child until you really get their internal logic! Remember you do not have to agree with it, just understand it. No attempts to correct the irrational thinking now – that will come later.
Let him know you might have a clue (however a small one and never, never say I KNOW what you are going through). You can say I understand or I might have felt that way myself, but never I KNOW. Validating their feelings by relating them to something you might have experienced does two things: 1. It forces you to see the experience from their eyes because you, yes, you ancient one, were once a teen yourself, and 2. It builds a bridge that the two of you could meet in the middle to talk.
Here is the hardest part: Empty yourself of the need to lecture. Do not go into problem solving with your child. Listen to her and he upset feelings! Tune into her message and say how you might understand (not that you do necessarily, but that you might.)
- I can see that you might feel that because . . .
- I can understand that because….
- That once happened to me so I get where you are coming from…
- That makes sense to me because once I . . .
Keep your example how you felt the same way very short! Only one or two sentences. Don’t retell stories she has heard many times before. All you need to say is “I understand, because something like that happened to me once.” Then turn the topic of concern back to your child and his feelings. This is about your being there for your child – not being the reactive parent.
3. EMPATHIZE and GUESS the Feeling: Really get what your child and take the conversation to the feeling level. Try your best to understand what your child is saying and try to get the feeling.
Pick one or more feelings and reflect that back to her. Help her give a label to the feelings. Guess if you have to. If you get it wrong, she will correct you. The key here is to be genuinely understanding of what your child is saying and express it back so she can label and validate the uncomfortable feelings.
- That must make your feel . . .
- I can imagine that you might feel confused about….
- I wonder if you are feeling hurt under all that anger?
You don’t have to agree with your child’s feelings. And you don’t have to do anything about it other than give it a name. Just try to understand. Go to the place of “Given your experience, I can see how your might feel” or “I don’t feel that way, but I’m big enough to understand that you might feel that way”.
Don’t just mouth the feelings words here. Be sincere. Sarcasm will distance you. Again, no problem solving. Sometimes all it takes is for the child to feel heard and empathized with; a solution is not always necessary.
Your child desperately wants your love. She wants to be connected not matter how she acts on the outside. Young people often feel misunderstood. Teenagers make feeling misunderstood an art form! Then he or she will react with anger, hurt or sullenness and refusal to talk. Intentional Dialogue gives a format where your child has a safe place to go with feelings.
Taking things down past the intellect (the head) to the feeling level (the heart) helps people feel understood. Remember, you don’t have to agree with what is being said. It helps when you get to a level of empathy as to the deepest part of what is going on – the feelings. Empathy is the ability to see things from the perspective of another person and feel compassion.
The ability to have satisfying personal relationships and a well-defined sense of self is boosted with developing the skill of empathy. This dialogue approach teaches your child how to become an empathetic person.
Check out Lynne Namka’s award-winning site www.AngriesOut.com for more articles on communicating with your families.
I Love You So Big! Blog – Lynne Namka, © 2011-13
“If I can keep still and listen to my sixteen year old, I’ll be the first parent on the block to know what’s going on with this alien teen nation by tuning into my inner trend meter! – Anonymous
Be there fully when your child talks to you. So, even if you are facing a hundred shades of hostility during those Years of Unbearable Kid Tension, take time to stop and listen. Listen from your heart. Don’t be a halfway listener. Don’t tune out when your children talk or start doing something else. I notice that my children would sometimes choose my most incontinent time to talk to me about something trivial which then might turn into something important. It’s like they had to test me to see if I were really listening before they would unburden their heart.
You can increase closeness with your child if you really hear what he says. Your listening helps him feel understood and breaks into the loneliness that young people get into.
You can increase closeness with your child if you really hear what he says. Your listening helps him feel understood and breaks into the loneliness that young people get into. Reflecting back the content of his message and getting to the real meaning without becoming defensive is one of the highest-level skills you can achieve! Put your own feelings on hold for a few minutes to totally listen. If you have a youngster who withholds information about his life, learn ways to get him to open up.
Just keep remembering as you listen – “This is not about me being the parent who must discipline. Discipline will come later. This is not about explaining things to him or punishing him. This is only about listening so he can express his feelings. This is seeing it from my child’s point of view! This is my trying to understand my child’s feelings, so he can get them out.” No shoulds. No problem solving. This is total unconditional – “I’ll be there for you!” Science fiction writers Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen Baxter tell it well: “What we need is a machine that will let us see the other guy’s point of view.” We don’t have such a machine, but we do have a fantastic technique.
Listen for information about what is really going on in your child’s world. Let your child be the expert and teach you about teen culture, about drugs, alcohol and sex. Active listening is a skill that is necessary for relationships. Feeling understood in this world of confusion and chaos allows the young person to risk opening up more.
So talk with your children about risky behaviors. Two talks with teens leads to less marijuana use for at least a year, a recent study found. A brief, voluntary conversation with an adult led to up to a 20 percent decrease in marijuana use for teenagers who frequently used the drug. And then listen to learn!
Harville Hendrix gives a formula that encourages active listening, called Intentional Dialogue. This approach keeps the person who is hurt or upset talking to get down to the bottom line feeling and express their deepest pain. Hendrix’s book, “Getting the Love You Want, A Guide for Couples,” offers great tools for understanding family dynamics. Read this fine book for your own growth, improving communication in your marriage and with your children. Many people choose to do the exercises together from the book to strengthen their relationship.
You know you need the Intentional Dialogue Technique if you are having free-for-alls if you and your child yell a lot or don’t communicate at all. Hendrix has authored two books for parents along with his wife Helen Hunt which are Getting the Love that Heals: a Guide for Parents and The Parent’s Companion: Meditations and Exercises for Giving the Love that Heals.
Another good book on supporting your teen and getting them to open up to you is How to Talk So Your Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. This small book is written in cartoon style so will be an easy read for you.
Button your lips on your own anger when attempting to listen to your youngster! You have to resist any need to lecture or teach when your child is talking about something that is upsetting to him. Not responding in anger yourself or setting him straight is tough.
Intentional Dialogue works. It can defuse the hurt and disappointment under the outburst. Three simple steps will make your child feel really heard and validated. Keep your focus on the three steps rather than moralizing at this point. (You will get to make your own point across later.) First just help your child talk his issue of feeling misunderstood through to get to the bottom line feelings. Doing an Intentional Dialogue when your child is upset is going into the eye of the storm.
Check out the books mentioned in this article through these links:
Getting the Love You Want, A Guide for Couples by Harville Hendrix
Getting the Love that Heals: a Guide for Parents by Harville Hendrix and Helen Hunt
The Parent’s Companion: Meditations and Exercises for Giving the Love that Heal by Harville Hendrix and Helen Hunt
How to Talk So Your Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish
I Love You So Big! Blog – Lynne Namka, © 2011-13
My wife played a tape of me arguing with my daughter and I couldn’t believe it was me talking. I was out of my head. – A co-dependent dad
Stay listening. You will be surprised at what you can learn from your children. Practice active listening. Children feel validated when someone really listens rather than just judging them, that’s one reason their peers gain so much power over them. If their friends listen and make them feel accepted and you do not, guess whose values they will take in.
Try to understand that children do go through phases and the best thing to do is just ride them out. Learn active listening and work on cleaning up your lecturing so you can talk in the ways that your children will actually listen.
To encourage open communication get your child to think and express his or her opinion. Know that the opinion is probably a transitory one and won’t be acted upon unless you overreact and go ballistic. Listen to their opinion then ask them to respect you and listen as you express yours. Remind your child that your opinion is based on years of experience and living. Remember that he is trying on different ways of thinking and opinions and may not even believe what he passionately says. He may say thing just to shock you. It may be an idea he just heard and is working though. See this as a time to teach your child values, but if you start to insist or argue for your side, he will become more entrenched in his. Opinions are not set in stone during the teen years, but fluctuate according to the ever shifting mood and who is influencing him from the outside world.
Kids’ unusual ideas can be anxiety provoking to parents if you give it power and make it out to be more than it is. If you start to panic at what you hear, tell yourself, “Jeez-Louise, it is just his IDEA or OPINION at this moment. What if I just hear it through as if it’s an idea, not something he is actually going to do? Kids’ opinions are fickle, they change all the time.” Then think back to some weird belief that he used to have and how that changed. Don’t buy into your fear that he will always thing this way or act it out.
So if you are worried about her dressing Goth or playing Doom or games with too much gore, see it as another children phase that he is going through. Just as the monsters under the bed phrase or calling everyone “Poopie” chapter of your lives together that drove you crazy, this too will pass, if you let it. I thought I would go crazy as a young mother when my children went through the phrase of calling each other fatso. Guess what? They outgrew it.
Try to understand that children do go through phases and the best thing to do is just ride them out. Learn active listening and work on cleaning up your lecturing so you can talk in the ways that your children will actually listen. You are the adult here! Most of your values will come through in the long run if you don’t protest too much about their latest one. The longer you protest in days, months and years, the longer their phase will be. Don’t turn differences in values into a power struggle.
Look for my article Parent Cues To Teach Children To Express Upset Feelings at www.angriesout.com or other articles for help with communicating with children at www.timetoloveyourself.com/blog.
I Love You So Big! Blog – Lynne Namka, © 2011-13
The most deadly of all sins is the mutilation of a child’s spirit. – Erik Erikson
When I ask you to listen to me and you begin to tell me why I shouldn’t feel that way, you are trampling on my feelings.
When I ask you to listen to me and you feel you have to do something to solve my problem, you have failed me, strange as that may seem.
Listen! All I asked was that you listen, not talk to or do – just hear me.
When I ask you to listen to me and you begin to tell me why I shouldn’t feel that way, you are trampling on my feelings. Please, just listen and hear me.
Advice is cheap; 35 cents will get you both Dear Abby and Billy Graham in the same paper.
I can do for myself; I’m not helpless – maybe discouraged and faltering, but not helpless. When you do something for me that I can and need to do for myself, you contribute to my fear and inadequacy.
But when you accept as a simple fact that I do feel what I feel, no matter how irrational, then I can quit trying to convince you and can get about this business of understanding what’s behind this irrational feeling. When that’s clear, the answers are obvious and I don’t need advice.
Irrational feelings make more sense when we understand what’s behind them.
Perhaps that’s why prayer works, sometimes, for some people – because God is mute, and He/She doesn’t give advice or try to fix things. “They” just listen and let you work it out for yourself.
So please listen and just hear me.
And if you want to talk, wait a minute for your turn – and I’ll listen to you.
Here’s some advice about listening to your Inner Wisdom from my book on anger management techniques, Your Quick Anger Makeover Plus Twenty Other Cutting-Edge Techniques to Release Anger!
“Daily listening rituals for healing are part of becoming a loving, calm person. You can set yourself free from unwanted emotions and problems if you are willing to take the time to do the work. There are loving spiritual forces around us that are waiting for an invitation to help as described by the anonymous saying, “We entertain angels unawares.” You can call on your God, guides and teachers and spiritual deities you believe in from higher realms to assist you in achieving peace. You can download higher frequencies from above through intention and asking for what you want. We can always ask for clarification about an issue that is troubling us. To increase your own healing ability, set your intention for change with love. Take a long, slow, deep breath and hold it while focusing on love. Go deeper into love and see healing as happening now. See, feel and experience the power of love plus intention as a powerful change agent in your life.”
To improve your relationships and learn more about improving your listening skills, we recommend the book The Lost Art of Listening, Second Edition: How Learning to Listen Can Improve Relationships by Michael P. Nichols.
I Love You So Big! Blog – Lynne Namka, © 2011-13
“Find the extra time. Yes, teens take more time to parent. You need to be there when your teens want to talk about what is churning in their heads. Start out by listening – don’t half listen while you think of something else.” – Marilyn Heins
“Nobody understands me” is a common complaint of young people. Feeling different from others and feeling alone creates more confusion and conflict in the adolescent mind, which is working so hard to find an identity. One study showed that most behavior problems were caused by the child’s not feeling heard by adults.
The research says that feeling invalidated by others is the most common reason young people act! Young people do not feel respected when they are ignored, not listened to, or order to feel differently. They feel put down and reason that others do not care about them, so why should they care about themselves. They seek others in rebellion like themselves who seeming care and start to adopt values of giving up, alcohol and drug use.
Underneath all these new behaviors of insisting on being left alone is the child’s ongoing need for the Three Big A’s—attention, affection and approval. Young people do not feel respected when they are ignored, not listened to, or order to feel differently.
“Why questions” typically do not work in getting to the root of why your youngster is acting the way he does. Children do not feel validated when parents ask them why they feel the way they do and then tell them how the “should” act. They also feel invalidated when you do not approve of their friends. A cardinal sin for most young people is being dissed by someone. They are furious and defensive when parents call their friends names. Some young people have a misguided sense of loyalty to their friends and keep hanging around people they would normally let go of just because their parents talk disrespectfully about the qualities of the friend.
Philosophizing and dismissal of a child’s problems will make him shut you out and become “parent deaf.” The time of the teen years are at a time of life when he is trying to interpret his world which is changing rapidly. It stings when a parent puts him down by calling him too sensitive, a crybaby, a whiner, stupid, too dramatic or a drama queen.
Underneath all these new behaviors of insisting on being left alone is the child’s ongoing need for the Three Big A’s—attention, affection and approval.And of course structure and clear, strong limits. I love the cartoon showing one porcupine talking to another who says, “Just once, I’d like to be petted!”
Our kids are like that at times. Prickly on the outside but needing that nurturance and connection even at the same time they deny it. They want you to love them despite how irrationally they are acting. So take a deep breath, drop into your heart to find what you really want for them at those moments when they are driving you crazy. That takes you out of your anger in the moment and puts you back in a space of rationality and clarity. Find your loving intention before words come out your mouth.
Lynne Namka is a Happy Psychologist who writes about love and life. She’s a wife, the mother of three, grandmother of three and a desert gardener who lives and practices in Tucson, Arizona. Her award-winning website is www.AngriesOut.com.