Child: I don't want to go to Eric's party tomorrow.
Parent: The party doesn't sound like fun to you, huh.
Child: Right. Eric isn't fair and I don't like him.
Parent: You dislike Eric now, 'cause you think he's unfair.
Child: Yeah. I can't stand him.
Parent: You don't want to be with him at all.
Child: That's right. He never plays what I want to play.
Parent: You hate it when he won't play your games.
Child. Yeah. I play what he wants.
Parent: And you wish he would do the same some of the time.
Child. Yeah. I think I'll tell him tomorrow.
Parent: You want him to know how you feel, so you've decided to tell him.
A minister tells of an incident with his 15-year-old son, Ken:
"My wife had just said something to Ken when we were sitting on the patio. And he just turned to Liz, my wife, and screamed loudly, 'You just bug the hell out of me.' The veins just stood out on his face--it was the first time I'd ever seen this side of my son, because you know being the P.K., preacher's kid, he was kind of the symbol of what all nice boys and girls should be. Now here he was screaming at about ten decibels of sound. And Liz looked at him and said, 'I get under you skin, huh?' And if you could have watched the expression on his face! He was expecting her to jump back at him with an equally loud and bombastic and critical statement. And when it didn't come back...he went from about ten decibels down to a conversational tone and said, 'You sure do, Mom.' But the next statement was the significant one--he said, 'And I supposed I get under your skin, too.' I couldn't believe it! Something that could have been a real battle for two hours, and perhaps noncommunication between them for a day, was solved in just a matter of minutes...just because one person dared to say, 'I hear you.' Not, 'You're wrong,' but 'I hear you.'"
A three-year-old frightened by thunder during a storm:
"She got very upset hearing this thunder and seeing the lightening--mainly the sound. She came crying to me, saying, 'I'm afraid--I don't like thunder.' I started out with Roadblocks, saying 'It's just the clouds bumping into each other.' But she kept crying and saying, 'I don't want to hear it, I'm afraid.' I said, 'It won't hurt you, it's just noise.' Still more crying. then it came to me--Aha, Active Listening! So, I said, 'You're worried about the thunder and you wish it'd stop 'cause it scares you.' Her expression changed immediately. All the worry went away, and she went trotting off without another word. That was the end of it! She just wanted me to understand how she felt. And that was the end of it. It was a beautiful example--just trotted off, that was it!"*
*Excerpt from Dr. Thomas Gordon's F.E.T. Adult Resource Book