Sep 28, 2009

Why Should Parents Learn Active Listening?

Some parents who are introduced to this skill in our P.E.T. course say:

"It seems so unnatural to me."
"That isn't the way people talk."
"What's the purpose of Active Listening?"
"I'd feel like a dork responding to my kid that way."
"My daughter would think I flipped my lid if I started to use
Active Listening with her."

These are understandable reactions because parents are so accustomed to telling, preaching, questioning, judging, threatening, admonishing, or reassuring. IT is certainly natural for them to ask if it will be worth the trouble to change and learn Active Listening?

One of the more skeptical fathers in a P.E.T. class became convinced after an experience with his daughter, aged fifteen, during the week following the class session in which he was introduced to this new way of listening.

"I want to report to the class an amazing experienced I had this week. My daughter, Roxanne, and I haven't said a civil word to each other for about two years, except maybe, 'Pass the bread', or 'Can I have the salt and pepper?' The other night she and her boyfriend were sitting at the table in the kitchen when I came home. I overheard my daughter telling her boyfriend how much she hated school and how she was disgusted with most of her girlfriends. I decided right then and there I would sit down and do nothing but active listen, even if it killed me. Now, I"m not going to say I did a perfect job, but I surprised myself. I wasn't too bad. Well, will you believe it, they both started talking to me and never stopped for two hours. I learned more about my daughter and what she is like in those two hours than I had in the past five years. On top of that, the rest of the week she was downright friendly to me. What a change!"

This amazed father is not unique. Many parents have immediate success when they try out this listening skill. Even before they acquire a reasonable level of competence at Active Listening, they often report some startling results.

Many people think that they can get rid of their feelings by suppressing them, forgetting them, or thinking about something else. Actually, people free themselves of troublesome feelings when they are encouraged to express them openly. Active Listening fosters this kind of catharsis. It helps children to find out exactly what they are feeling. After they express their feelings, the feelings often seem to disappear almost like magic.

Find out tomorrow other reasons why parents should learn Active Listening.

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