Do you sometimes find yourself in a situation in which you think you should be able to roll out the perfect explanation that makes perfect sense to your child?
Here are a few real life examples I heard from parents recently:
How do I explain to my 4 year old that pointing at that person in a wheelchair is rude? (When you are stuck in the supermarket queue.)
How do I explain to my 7 year old that learning to swim is a good thing? (When he refuses to leave the changing cubicle and join the swimming class.)
How do I explain to my 9 year old life might turn out ok after her dad’s second marriage? (When she looks like there is no tomorrow...)
Do you find yourself scrambling for the words, the explanation that will take away all their hurt, their confusion, their stuckness (or at least make them behave in a way that does not embarrass you).
How would it feel if you could let go of the need to give a perfect answer or an explanation?
Your child is looking to find their own meaning, to make their own sense of that situation and the best help you can offer is - listen... Perhaps ask a question and listen some more...
You want me to have a look at this person that caught your attention. Can you imagine what it must feel like to be in that person’s body?
You seemed quite excited about swimming at home and now you don’t feel like it any more. Do you know what has changed?
You are not sure if your time with daddy will be the same after his wedding. I can see it is hard for you... What do you think will change?
I’m not suggesting it is going to be easy or that your child will find their answers straight away.
The biggest difference between launching into explanation and creating time and space to listen is that listening asks you to be or become more comfortable with being with your child's feelings: curiosity, excitement, fear, shame, doubt, loneliness...
Listening lets you off the hook to find the sensible explanation (phew!) and, more importantly, creates the opportunity for your child to explore their own world, in a way that they might not have been able to do on their own.
P.s. If you would like support to implement those ideas in your day-to-day parenting – head to my calendar to book a consultation.