Using Reflections to Show You’re Listening
Reflections of Words
Reflection of Emotions
- Take a guess even if you are unsure. There may be times when you are unsure what your child is feeling. For example, your child may be crying but you may not know if he is angry, scared, or sad. You can let him know that you are paying attention and trying to understand how he feels by saying, “It seems like you are upset or “It sounds/looks like something is bothering you”. Your child may not know himself what he is feeling and by talking you can figure it out together.
- Words aren’t needed all the time. You can let your child know you are paying attention to how she feels by what you do even if you don’t say anything. You can just sit with your child while she is upset or stay physically close and hold or comfort her.
- You don’t always have to agree. Sometimes it is difficult to summarize or label your child’s feelings because you think he should be responding in a different way. Telling your child to stop feeling a particular way or asking him not to worry does not show your child you are trying to understand how he feels. By talking with your child about his feelings, you can help him deal with and understand his feelings.
- Talk about other feelings. Children may have several emotions at the same time. For example, your child might feel sad and afraid at the same time. By talking about all the feelings, you show your child you care about what she is showing on the outside and may be feeling on the inside. You can also help your child figure out how to deal with many different feelings.
- Don’t worry about getting it wrong. Sometimes when parents are learning active listening skills, they worry that they will incorrectly summarize and label their child’s feelings. You should not worry. Children usually correct their parents if their feelings are described incorrectly. If your child corrects you, try again. Reflect what he has said to you, and expand on it to give him more words and to learn ways to describe his feelings.