Saturday, September 17, 2005

Listening to Feelings

“ Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart.” (Nehemiah 2:2)

Empathy is "putting yourself in someone's shoes" so that you are aware of, understand, and experience in your mind the other person's feelings, thoughts, and experience. Why is empathy so important for interpersonal relationships? Because conversation is interactive and every person would like to be understood before going on. If you don't get their feeling, they will not feel truly understood no matter what else you say.

Homes are ideal place for children to learn empathy. Babies and young children intrinsically trust their parents. As they grow, children and teenagers continue to learn and model after their parents. Most of the time, children can help themselves if parents listen. Here are a few suggestions from the book How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish.

(1) Instead of half listening, listen with full attention (e.g. eye contact).

(2) Instead of asking questions and giving advice, acknowledge what he or she is saying with a word, such as “Oh … Mmm … I see …”

(3) Instead of denying the feeling, give the feeling a name, e.g. “You feel angry because Eric hit you.”

(4) Instead of explanation and logic, give a child his wishes in fantasy.

Copyright © 2005 Parenting ABC