Communicating with children of any age is a key parenting skill, as it helps build your child’s self-esteem and confidence and learning to really listen to your child as you go through your divorce is crucial.
Just as talking to your children is vital, no less important is the art of listening to them when they’re talking to you. Communicating effectively with your children can make your role as a parent simpler, more enjoyable and ultimately a more fulfilling experience and can ease the painful transition around all the changes happening during a divorce.
How to listen attentively to your children during divorce.
Truly listening is difficult, especially when you are a parent and maybe you’re feeling stressed and totally overwhelmed yourself during your divorce. Our natural reaction and tendency when our kids are having a difficult time is to want to fix things quickly and to take the hurt away.
But one of the most helpful things you can do is to really listen to your child which will support their feelings. This helps children to learn how to identify, accept and feel comfortable about expressing their feelings. It builds self-belief that they can handle difficult situations.
Here are some tips:
- Give your child your full attention when they are talking to you. Sit down and make eye-to-eye contact. If you can’t stop what you are doing, let your child know that what they have to say is important and arrange a time when you can give them your undivided attention.
- Listen to your child without trying to fix, judge, criticise or change their feelings. When children do not have chance to solve their problems or have their feelings acknowledged they are deprived of building self-esteem and self-confidence.
- Try to understand your child’s feelings and to empathise with their perspective of events. Consider focusing on what your child is feeling and verbalising that for them through statements such as “It sounds like you are feeling…” This is called reflective listening and is a very powerful tool for children to feel heard and understood.
- Remember what your child most needs is for you to listen, not to solve their problems.
- Keep your issues separate from your children’s feelings. If it is difficult, take some time to process what is going on and find the support and professional help you need before sitting down listening to them.
- If your child doesn’t want to talk to you let them know you understand it’s hard for them and that when they are ready to talk you will be there to listen. It’s not about when you want to listen it’s about when they want to talk,
- One way to improve your listening skills is to ask simple questions and then just listen. You could ask: how did that make you feel? What did that mean to you? How would you like things to change? What can I do to support you ?
If you’d like to work with me as you go through your divorce call me on 01883 818329 or email me to arrange a time to chat on [email protected]