To begin with, children, like anyone, need to feel heard.

Therefore, the best way to build a good relationship is first to listen.

Let’s give up our answers that just deny the kid’s feeling (“You cannot be hungry, we just got out of lunch!”), or minimize it (“It’s nothing!”), the ones that are full of philosophy (“You know, that’s life…” – That is just my style…), and let’s turn to empathic responses instead.

In order to do this, the book offers us 4 methods:
1 – Listen quietly and attentively
To listen with distraction, looking at one’s phone or checking on the other child practicing is not really listening…
2 – Acknowledge with a word
Simple enough: avoid answering the matter, just receive the feeling.
“I can’t take my brother anymore!
The child will probably keep on talking without us asking, and will build his own analysis of the situation if we give him space to do so, which will only be possible when the feeling is out. He is not ready yet to hear “What did you do to him?” !
3 – Give the feeling a name
“You must have been mad!” or “I see you’re sad.”
4 – Give the child his wishes in fantasy
“It would be nice if we could have some chocolate at every meal!”
As strange as it may seem, it works!
I was blown away myself by our experience, both on active listening, or on the giving the wishes in fantasy.

In the same chapter, they also suggest creative expression: to draw the feelings. (especially anger).
Here again, I tried!

Back to the book post

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