Parenting: Joining and Listening to our Child when a Problem Arise

Many parents and people listen with the intent of waiting to reply. For a variety of reasons including being overworked and tired parents often do not listen for the underlying meaning, purpose, and emotionality of the message they are receiving from their child. Engaging the child is the first key to joining and listening. When engaging our child it is important to be kind and firm in our approach minding our body language and tone of voice. Many parents may often be in a suspended state, waiting to give a reply so that we may help the child and then move on. After all, we already know how to solve the problem from our adult mind frame. The problem is that there are two minds at work here! Each one has their own perception forming in the moment the problem is presented. It is most important for the adult to first understand their child’s feeling state and developing mental processes in this important moment of learning when the problem is presenting itself to the child. When first understanding the child we need to have a soft and reflective approach and get to their level of understanding. Often parents may seem ominous to their child be their mere gait, approach, or nature of being in a rush. The child may then learn to ignore their parent as not to “poke the bear” or be a bother to a parent. It is good practice to physically get down on one knee or sit down when working with your child. This structural change helps parents connect with their child and join in their state of distress or figuring out something. Also in this simple structural change moment of joining, the child may begin their mental mechanics of moving dynamically from a point of distress to a point of eustress. The later which is the healthy kind of stress used for learning and positive change. The parent’s influence here is exceptional.Children are attuned to their parents emotional state often more than parents are attuned to their child’s emotional state. Children, especially at an early stage of development and or age, often utilize their emotional connectivity with their parents to stay tuned in as opposed to the verbal relational framing and activity that parents may rely much more on. In general, children are more sensitive like this for a reason. They need to be reactive through being more sensitive to elicit a parental response to generate proper parental support and assistance with an issue or problem that is challenging their developing minds. This dependency has a security and survival purpose that is innate in the person.As a parent we need to appreciate our child’s developmental age and frame of perception. Step into your child’s mind at their stage of development or preferably go slightly beyond it as a way to bridge the gap of learning and help the child build into the next lexicon of knowledge needed to complete the current task or solve the problem (Scaffolding). Join them in this process of learning without doing it for them (Enabling)! In this way the connection with our child is most essential than quickly solving the task so we may return to our day. Sure this may be more time consuming, but not that much more. And it will save you countless time and stress in the future as your child internalizes what they learn from you and becomes more self-sufficient and higher functioning. Take the time. Connecting with our children is a most important value!In this process of connecting to help our child learn and develop, active and emotional listening is key. Active listening requires engagement, patience, and true listening which is a skill. Be patient and take the time to listen and not simply “hear” your child. Emotional listening requires understanding what feeling state is first being processed into the emotional representative it becomes when the feeling state attaches to social elements being perceived in the child’s social context. Engage the child calmly and ready to discuss the presenting problem or task to be solved. This will foremost develop a working relationship so future problems are not as much anxiety provoking for both the child and parent especially as the child learns or has learned from the past that the parent is there for the child. This trust goes a long way. In time your child will internalize the collaborative learning process in this moment and eventually will be able to do it on their own. Also your child will then become more likely to come to you or trusted others with the next higher order of problem solving sets, feeling confident and more relaxed about the learning process as it unfolds. Our children are worth our most exceptional support and with it our children may become more than and exceptional people that we as parents may be proud of. ADDITIONAL

RESOURCES: How to not Screw Up your Kids; a 10 minute video with Dr. Gabor Mate at

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