Apr 21, 2009

Self-Disclosure Benefits to You and Your Relationship

Self-discloure is communication which describes you, your inner experiences, literally--your self. Self-disclosing messages are about your beliefs and ideas, your likes and dislikes, your feelings, thoughts, and reactions. Self-disclosing messages let your children and others know how you feel and where you stand.

Although there are some risks in being self-disclosing, the potential benefits are overwhelming--both for yourself and for your relationships with others, especially your children. These benefits include:

Knowing Yourself Better
When you disclose yourself to your children and others, you are, at the same time, talking to yourself, keeping in touch with your own thoughts and feelings, values, and beliefs. You maintain awareness, responsibility, and control of your inner experiences.

Liking Yourself Better
You feel better about yourself as a parent, and as a person, when you are open, honest, and clear with your children; when you express who you are and what you think and believe, you feel strong, responsible, confident.

Being Better Understood By Others
Your self-disclosure leads to a more accurate understanding by others of who you really are. Your children will know the important thoughts, feelings, and values you want them to know. They won't be confused, in the dark, and worried about where you stand on certain issues. Tension and uncertainty will be replaced by a new, secure awareness of who you reall are.

Encouraging Self-Disclosure In Your Child
Your openness, directness, and sincerity will invariably encourage the same from your children and from others around you. Honesty is very contagious in families when it is modeled by the parent, along with the attitude that the home is a "safe place" for everyone to express true thoughts and feelings. Generally, this kind of self-disclosure draws families closer together. Indifference, alienation, and tension recede. Trust and mutual caring take their place.

Conflicts Are Prevented
The other members of your family can better meet your needs when they have a clear picture of what you want. The chances of having conflicts with your children resulting from unknown or uncommunicated needs are thus greatly reduced. Expressing yourself openly and clearly will eliminate unwanted surprise, unpreparedness, and the unexpected from your relationships. In a family where openness and genuineness prevail, tension, resentment, and silent suffering simply have no opportunity to grow.

For more on how to use effective self-disclosure, email info@gordontraining.com, or check out the P.E.T. book.

Apr 15, 2009

Running Into Resistance to I-Messages?

So you have decided to confront your child about a problem you have. You deliver a perfect, three-part Confrontive I-Message, but your child replies, "So what? Who cares?" Or maybe they deliver an I-Message of their own.

What do you do next?

Confrontive I-Messages do not always solve your problem immediately. When we deliver an I-Message, the person we are confronting may react to our message defensively.

"So what," "who cares" and other responses like these are coded messages.

"Who cares!" does not really mean that the child does not care; it is a coded message for other feelings that the child is experiencing, such as being hassled, picked on, or embarrassed.

All spoken words and the accompanying behaviors are purposeful; they are a way for a child or another person to try and express something else. This is where you have the opportunity to shift gears to Active Listening.

By shifting from your Confrontive I-Message to Active listening, you can help the child identify and express her real feelings and, in so doing, help her to become unflooded so she is ready to hear your I-Message.

Take a look at this excerpt from P.E.T. for a better understanding of what happens when a child responds with resistance to an I-Message:

"Children...frequently respond to an I-Message by sending back an I-Message of their own. Rather than immediately modify their behavior, they want you to hear what their feelings are, as in this incident:

MOTHER: I hate to see the clean living room all dirtied up as soon as you come home from school. I feel very discouraged about that after I’ve worked hard to clean it up.

SON: I think you’re too picky about keeping the house clean.

At this point, parents untrained in P.E.T. often get defensive and irritated, rebutting with, 'Oh no I’m not,' or 'That’s none of your business,' or 'I don’t care what you think about my standards.' To handle such situations effectively, parents must be reminded of our first basic principle—when the child has a feeling or a problem, use Active Listening. We call this 'Shifting Gears'—temporarily changing from a confronting posture to a listening posture. In the preceding incident, Mom’s I-Message gave the child a problem (as these messages usually do). So now is the time to show understanding and acceptance, since your I-Message has caused him a problem:

MOTHER: You feel my standards are too high and that I’m fussy.

SON: Yeah.

MOTHER: Well, that may be true. I’ll think about that. But until I change, I sure feel darned discouraged about seeing all my work go down the drain. I’m very upset right now about this room.

Often, after the child can tell that his parent has understood his feeling, he will modify his behavior. Usually, all the child wants is understanding of hisfeelings—then he feels like doing something constructive about your feelings."

So don’t feel discouraged when your I-Message is not instantly received as you wish it would be. Step back and listen to your child and let her know that her feelings are appreciated as well.

We hope this was helpful to you! We would be interested in hearing your feedback, suggestions, insights and so forth.

Thank you! :)