Communication is a two way street – what to do when your child will not talk.
Parents say to me all the time ” This communication stuff is all fine but what do I do when my children isn’t talking to me?”. To me it is simple, you go back to listening. Not just any old listening but what I call “step into my shoes listening”.
Yesterday I was listening to a great audio book that mentioned a skill called trading minds, it reminded my of this article I wrote a while ago so I thought I would share this with you.
Step in my shoes Listening
Children describe to me time and time again the following situation. They have an issue they are dealing with and they eventually decide to talk with their parents about it. So they pick their moment and start talking, but no sooner have they started then the parent has broken into a dialogue of advice about what they did as a child, how they would handle the situation and what the child should do. The child listens, then walks away feeling dejected and misunderstood. The issue remains unresolved.
So what is the way forward? Understanding their structure of interpretation, feeling how it must be to be your child in today’s society and all the challenges that must bring. Step into my shoes listening as we call it.
Step into my shoes is a three-step process.
1. Listen with your lips shut – do not comment.
2. Ensure you are listening heart to heart.
3. Step into their shoes.
Let me give you an example of Step into my shoes listening and how this may pan out.
Imagine this situation. Your teenage daughter comes home having been the victim of a robbery. How do you respond?
1. Listen from your point of view.
”Well they didn’t have mobile phones in my day, if you will have a phone what do you expect? You should report it, they cannot get away with this! I am never buying you anything again – you should have been more careful – I told you so!”
Well, I think we have all experienced this type of listening at one time or another.
2. Listening to their point of view.
”Are you OK? Are you hurt? Did you go to the police? Where did it happen?”
Here you are listening and just attempting to gain more information.
3. Step into their shoes.
”That must have been really shocking for you and very scary. It must be challenging being a teenager today with all this added responsibility. How can I support you?”
Here you step into the teenager’s body, looking at life through their eyes, responding accordingly.
When you use this type of listening, your tone must be neutral and you must ensure that you sound sincere.
I would like to leave you with these five steps to step into your shoes listening. Remember this is life-long learning!
1. Step and breath
2. Connect with your teenager heart to heart
3. Physically imagine yourself standing behind your teenager
4. Now look at life through their eyes.
Remember to have great fun with this and let me know how this powerful tool works for you.