ACTIVE LISTENING: ARE YOU LISTENING TO ME?

On a day to day basis how often are we tuning into ourselves? How often do we make time to be still, to bring awareness to our bodies, our physical state, our emotions, thoughts and feelings?

How often do we take a good thirty minutes or so just to be quiet? To journal, to tune out from the ‘busyness’ of the day. To switch off from social media, to turn off the television, switch the music off and just be fully present with ourselves?

I’m pretty sure most of us find this difficult (unless of course we are a ZEN masters) or practice mindfulness/meditation often.

It is however something people are becoming more self-aware of and I believe many would like to bring this type of presence into their lives.

The thing is if we find this difficult to do we are absolutely going to find listening and being present with our children quite difficult too. It actually is a skill to be an active listener and is something that doesn’t often come naturally to us (myself included).

Often to know how to do something we need to be taught or have a reference point to model and maybe we didn’t grow up with parents who were active listeners so we are just repeating generational patterns in poor communication passed down from our parents. Mix this into the equation with mobile devices, social media, tv and computer games then of course you’re going to be facing a lot of disconnect.

Ever felt unheard, unseen, unvalued?

Yep - Me too.

But we can’t receive what we aren’t giving so that’s why it’s down to us to us to learn the art of active listening so those in our company can really feel seen and heard.

How do you feel when you’re with a friend having a good conversation and they whip out their mobile phone to check their messages (and dare I say it maybe they are checking their facebook notifications?)

It instantly breaks rapport and it can become difficult to recalibrate.

Or how do you feel when you open up with your partner about something that is troubling you and they respond by telling you not to worry and that you’re just being a bit over sensitive?

You want to shut down and guard your deepest feelings which slowly leads you to a place where you don’t share your thoughts and feelings with them anymore.

And this is my biggest bug bear, how do you feel when you tell someone about some kind of suffering you went through, only for them to turn around and tell you about a time they experienced a similar or worser suffering?

Well, you just feel straight out unheard, like your experience is not important. Maybe you feel annoyed and like you can’t tell this person things in the future…

Now lets think of some interactions with our children and whether we are actively listening

“Mummy - I’m scared” - “No your not there’s nothing to be scared of. You’re fine.”

“Mummy - I’m hungry” - “You can’t be. You’ve just had dinner!”

“Mummy - I don’t want to wear that coat” - “You are wearing the coat whether you like it or not!”

“ Mummy - I want you to play with me” - “Not right now, I will later…” (continues tidying, washing up, cooking, cleaning… scrolling social media)

I’m recalling all of these scenarios from my own personal experiences (holds hands up guilty)

It is SO difficult to fully listen to our children as we are conditioned to dismiss what they are saying, after all they’re the children were the adults. Aren’t our thoughts, feelings, opinions more important than our kids?

WRONG

Both children and adults should be deeply listened to. When our children tell us they are scared we shouldn’t be dismissing this. We should be exploring it. What are they scared of? Is scared the right word they have chosen? Is it something else? Is it there way of trying to get your focused attention?

When they tell you they are hungry after dinner - surely it’s possible to be hungry after a meal or am I the only one who still has hunger pans after a meal? Telling them they can’t be hungry when they are learning to communicate how they feel is only going to leave them feeling frustrated or maybe they will think it’s bad to still be hungry?

“Mummy I want to play with you” - is a child directly communicating a need, a want and a desire for connection. They couldn’t make it any more obvious. Us making the cleaning, tidying, scrolling social media more important then there bold request is going to leave them

Active listening is made up of 4 components:

  • Listen Intently

  • Listen without judgment

  • Refrain from interrupting

  • Refrain from comparing

These components are crucial in active listening. Think about someone you know who is a great active listener. Maybe they are a great friend because of this because you feel heard, listened to, safe and understood. An active listener doesn’t jump in and interrupt, they don’t compare stories or judge. They are just deeply present and listen with intent allowing you to freely express.

Not only do active listeners make the greatest of friends but they also have great connections with their children. It really impacts the parent/child relationship when the child feels listened to without judging or interrupting.

Take a moment to think about what type of listener are you and find an opportunity in the next week to really actively listen and remember the 4 components of active listening.

Listen intently (with no interruptions, no phone in your hand, tv on etc),

Listen without judgement (don’t jump in and judge what you are hearing - “Sounds to me like…xyz” you’re not there to evaluate things)

Refrain from interruptions (the moment you’re thinking about what to say next is the moment you’ve stopped actively listening.

And lastly refrain from comparing (When someone tells you they’ve got the flu, don’t turn around and tell them all about your latest illness)

Active listening is covered in my new 10 Week Programme. If you want to become more attuned with your child and those around you and you want to create positive changes in your parent/child relationships then apply here to arrange a call with me.


The Empowerment Pattern

What is a pattern of behaviour that you noticed as a child growing up around discipline and/or the expression of emotions? Can you see any generational patterns playing out now in your own parenting?

As mentioned in my previous post there are generally two types of parenting patterns we know. The power pattern (power over another) and the empowerment pattern (relationship with another)

The empowerment pattern serves to do exactly that and provides empowered relationships between the parent and child. With this approach everyone had a voice. As a child you are trustworthy, whole, loving and complete just AS YOU ARE.

Parenting and children work together as a team to come up with a solution opposed to the parent ruling and dictating over the child. With this there is mutual respect, empathetic understanding and the child really feels seen and heard. Because of this the child feels unconditionally loved. They know they are loved - no matter what.

A parent using the empowerment pattern would strive to be an active listener, being open, curious and seeking to understand. You enter an interaction with your child from a neutral place. Listening intently, refraining from judgement and just really hearing your child and because of this a mutual respect based in love is created.

And the empowerment pattern displays direct communication whereby as a parent you communicate directly about your intentions, feelings, needs and solutions which are based upon family values. Children aren’t forced to do things against there will and there is no manipulation, bribes or threats (all of which deplete your energy).

You see the empowerment pattern may be new to you and you may be thinking how on earth do I move from the power pattern to the empowerment pattern. You may have limiting beliefs around your parenting believing that you ‘should’ control, dictate, bribe and power over your child and that your child ‘should’ do as you say. But I promise you there is a better, more kinder, more gentler way.

You may also have been brought up with the powered pattern and be telling yourself that you turned out fine? How are you defining ‘fine’? Is this based upon achievements, external factors, possessions? But what happened if you looked within. Perhaps explored any anxiety, low self esteem, guilt and shame that you have been carrying and recognising patterns in behaviour from childhood?

The Five Properties of the Empowerment Pattern

  • Empowered relationships: Everyone has a voice. As a child, you are trustworthy, whole, loving and complete just as you are. Parent and child work together as a team to come up with a solution that is a win-win for both parent and child.

  • Unconditional love: You are loved no matter what.

  • Active listening: You as the parent are curious and open. You are seeking to understand. Seeking to understand means that you don’t know everything about yourself, parenting or your child. It means that you are coming to this situation fresh and neutral.

  • Natural sense of respect based in love: Because you feel safe, heard and loved, then you show me respect.

  • Direct communication: As a parent, I communicate directly about my intentions, feelings, needs and solutions based on family values. I never have to force you to do what I want you to do. I don’t need to use coercion, manipulation, bribes or threats.

    (adapted from the Jai Institute of Parenting)

You will always find me being an advocate of the empowerment pattern yet we are human and of course from time to time we can default to the power pattern especially if that’s how we were brought up. But with self empathy and compassion we can always bring ourselves back to a state of awareness and choose again.

The empowerment pattern is discussed in more detail in my 10 week Parenting course which I’m opening for enrolment soon. If you want to be added to the wait list apply here and we can arrange a call.

The Powered Parenting Pattern

You know you have to pass a test to drive a car.

You have to pass a test to become a bank cashier.

Yet there is absolutely ZERO test to become a parent.

My husband and I often discuss how it is CRAZY that there is NO test to become a parent and absolutely anyone can be one - even young teenagers who can’t even look after themselves let alone a baby!

It’s frightening because being a parent is a tough gig and one which requires you to really step up to the mark and to really do a lot of exploration about what it is to be a parent. Not only that but it is the hardest job in the world. You are literally the lifeline of babies. They need you for food, water, comfort, shelter, LOVE - basically everything in the early days and its also 24/7. You can’t quit, throw in the towel, clock off, hand in your resignation. You’ve got to keep going. When your sick you have to get up and care for someone else. When you are exhausted and sleep deprived you have to get up and care for someone else. And chances are your kids are on your mind always, even when your apart! It’s mentally, emotionally and physically draining yet it’s also the most rewarding, joyful, heart bursting experience being a parent to children. A true blessing!

It’s no surprise parents have coined the term ‘winging it’ because on a day to day basis we do. Remember when you came back from hospital with your first born and you literally had NO CLUE what to do?? You were in the most sleep deprived physically exhausting state you have EVER been in but you didn’t dare shut your eyes because you HAD to keep watching the baby all night (just incase…) We’ve all been there and we’ve all shed a fair few tears over the struggles that come with parenting.

Often many of us perhaps look to our own parents for our reference point on ‘how to parent?’ or others vow to be everything there parents weren’t - depending on how they view their childhood.

It is so important to shine a light on the type of parenting you received growing up, so important in fact I wish parents to be did this during pregnancy because it plays a big part in the type of parenting that you will unconsciously play out with your own children. Bringing yourself into awareness around your own childhood helps you take those steps towards becoming a conscious parent and knowing how you were parented can radically transform your own parenting journey.

We first must realise that all our parents did their best with what they knew at the time of raising you. They did the best with what resources they had and what mindset they were in.

Today we are extremely privileged because we have access to so much information so we can learn anything at a touch of a button. Our parent’s didn’t so all they could do is try there best.

We have all grown up within a generational parenting pattern.

“Generational parenting patterns are strong because they are basically patterns of thought, belief and behavior that have been enacted over and over through time, establishing ingrained ways of being within an individual’s brain and biology.” - (Jai Institute of Parenting)

But now we live in the information age we can now be the ones that choose to END and to BREAK generational parenting patterns shifting from the POWER PATTERN (Power Over Another) to the EMPOWERMENT PATTERN (Relationship With Another).

The POWER PATTERN goes something like this:

“I’m the adult your the child so you will DO as I say”

“ You wont’ get to go to the party UNLESS you tidy your room”

“You will do your homework now because I said so”

“ Go to your room and stop crying or I will give you something to cry for”

In the Power Pattern the parent is more interested in controlling or stopping the child’s behaviour than creating a CONNECTION with the child.

1) You use your CONTROL as a parent to parent OVER your child.

2) There are EXPECTANT CONDITIONS FOR LOVE - where the child must behave in a certain way to gain a parent’s love.

3) CLASSIC DISCIPLINE is displayed where the parent rules over the child using statements such as - “Because I said so!!”

4) There’s a FALSE SENSE OF RESPECT based in FEAR - ‘Because you fear me and what I may do to you if you don’t listen, then you show me respect.’

5) And the power pattern uses a lot of INDIRECT COMMUNICATION, ‘As a parent, I communicate with bribes, manipulations, punishments, threats, rewards, shame, and/or guilt.‘

It’s not always an easy process looking in and observing the type of parenting pattern you received growing up however once you have it serves as a truly transformational process.

In my next blog post I’ll be going into detail about the EMPOWERED PARENTING PATTERN and the steps we can take to make connected relationships with our children opposed to ruling over them.

Do You Want To Become A More Conscious Parent?

There’s no denying that every mother I know truly wants the best for their children.

It’s one of the reasons why I made the conscious decision to be a stay at home mum. As that’s what I thought was best for my children and for my family. The thing is whether we have the opportunity to spend every waking hour with our children or whether we only have the hours in between work and the weekends we still have the same opportunity to form a deepened connection with our children yet we don’t always know how.

Some high flying entrepreneur mums are savage in the pursuit of financial abundance so they can give their children the sort of life they didn’t have. So they can give them opportunities, financial security and so they can bypass the struggles they had.

Some working mums work really ‘hard’ because they want to BE the best role model to their children. To show that you go out to work and you bring home the bacon and that a woman can be just as powerful and successful as a man.

Some mums throw themselves in to the stay at home role. They spend hours on pinterest, they create the perfect nursery decor, homemake meals and come up with fun crafts and games to do with their children.

I’m generalising but the thing is all of these mums are trying their best and going after what they think their child needs however a big area which goes amiss is a conscious connection and really seeing their children for who they are and allowing them to be who they are destined to be.

You see theres many children who have come from parents who work ‘hard’ or who had an abundance of money so they could give their children every opportunity under the sun and there’s children whose mum stayed at home during the younger years to care for them but these children can all be left with that same void, that same lack, that same emotional childhood story:

‘My mum didn’t see me - she was so focused on working hard’

‘My mum was always away on business trips then she tried to buy my love upon her return’

‘My mum stayed at home but was always withdrawn. She didn’t play with me or really get to know me’

No matter which type of mum you are there are so many ways to make sure you do consciously connect with your child and that you do see and hear them (and I mean truly see them).

Throwing money at your child isn’t what children want (we all know of someone who had all the money in the world growing up but had lots of emotional issues). Working hard and being a role model is applauded but what happens if your child doesn’t care how hard you work. What happens if your job role isn’t important to them they just want you to be deeply present with them. Being a stay at home mum and giving your child every waking hour is admirable but if you are trying to live through your children there going to one day feel that and one day resent you for it.

When were out of alignment and we are fixated on one path we can neglect the others. Every mum needs to work on the relationship with themselves and to also work on the relationship with their children.

I’ve created a 10 week programme for mums like you who KNOW you are trying your best but something just feels out of alignment. For mums who want to still be the high flying entrepreneur but need to add some tools to their tool kit to help them repair the connection when they are away from their kids. For mums who want to continue to keep working hard but who want to be a more peaceful parent and for the stay at home mum who gives her all to her children but needs to forge her own path by becoming more empowered.

My 10 week transformational programme not only changes you but also radically changes your family. You will become more attuned to yourself, you will look at your own parenting past. You will observe why you are parenting the way you are parenting. How you can be your child’s emotional coach. You will understand your child’s needs greater. You will start to understand how your child’s brain works and is developing. You will become an active listener. There will be more peace in your family. You will develop a mutual respect for your children and put family values at the core and will no longer need to use any harsh discipline methods.

I’ll be opening up to new clients soon so if you are wanting to invest in yourself and your parenting please add yourself to the wait list to organise a call with me: Apply here