Halloween is fast approaching. Candy displays are crawling out of the woodwork like a swarm of spiders! If you find yourself out shopping with your children trying to deflect creeping candy temptation, take heart.
A mother who recently attended one of my presentations gave Reflective Listening a try to prevent a familiar scary “scene” at the grocery store. She was so pleased with the result she shared this inspirational story:
“My children and I were in the grocery store after a birthday party and my son (age 2) saw the M&M’s stand with hundreds of packets inside. He immediately started to ask for some and I thought 'He’s already had cake today… let’s try the new technique.'
I said, ‘I bet you wish you could eat a thousand of those. They would be so yummy!'
My daughter (age 5) said, ‘That wouldn’t be very healthy.’
He then said, ‘Yes, Yummy candy. Bye yummy candy.’
And that was that.
The lady observing us about fell out on the floor and walked up to me and said, ‘I am so impressed. Usually kids just throw a huge fit.’
That made my day."
This mother Reflectively Listened to her son's emotional desire for the M&Ms by giving him his wishes and fantasy, "I bet you wish you could eat a thousand of those." If she had used logic and said, “You’ve had cake already today,” that would have made very little difference to her son’s 2 year old mind. If she had tried to distract her son and said, “Let’s see what’s in the next aisle,” he most likely would not have been dissuaded. If she had said, “We are not buying candy today,” she would have ignored his emotion and a battle of the wills may have followed. Any of these types of responses often result in an escalation of emotion. Reflective Listening proved to be the most efficient, solution-focused technique to getting out of the store without the candy and without the fuss.
Using logic to resolve emotions teaches our children the emotion is wrong to have. Distracting teaches children emotions are to be avoided. Ignoring emotion leaves a child either to suppress or act out emotions in unhealthy ways. Children who do not learn how to appropriately release their feelings grow into husbands, wives, or partners who ignore, suppress or cannot control emotions.
Use Reflective Listening to strengthen parent/child bonds, to diffuse intense emotions, and to engage with emotions in a healthy way. Family life can be Calmer, Easier, and Happier.