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Book Excerpt from For Parents Only by Shaunti Feldhahn and Lisa Rice

November 25, 2007

Getting Inside the Head of Your Kid

What Says, “I’m Listening,” to Your Child?

With all the challenges and temptations our kids face, it’s important that they believe we are safe and clued-in listeners who can be trusted to handle anything they tell us.

Thankfully, the [surveyed] kids provided lots of great examples of what makes them feel we are listening.

1. Focusing on their feelings first.

We should note that although this is probably the most important signal of listening, it was also the most difficult for the kids to articulate. But since the For Men Only research had shown us what to look for, we quickly realized we were hearing the “needing feelings heard” comments everywhere.

Don’t filter out the emotion; focus on it.

Because teenagers so often express their emotions in excessive or hurtful ways, parents may be inclined to filter out the feelings and focus on the problem at hand in order to figure out how to help this kid who is so upset. Yet, the national survey indicated that it’s far more productive to do the opposite: filter out the problem for a minute in order to figure out what your child is feeling, and acknowledge it.

The vast majority of kids indicated they want parents to address their emotions before they jump to the fix. And on a similar survey question, the older the kids got, the more they said that acknowledging their feelings best proves a parent is listening. Then they may or may not need our help with the problem itself. Consider these comments:

• “I just need to be heard out. Then it’s fine.”

• “It’s just important to talk and not keep things inside. That’s a huge part of the fix.”

• “Sometimes listening can fix the problem.”

• “When you say it to someone, you hear it differently, and often it all works out.”

To order your copy of For Parents Only, click here.

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