After our second session of parent effectiveness training (P.E.T.) I’m beginning to think our parenting skills are not the only thing that will be improved by attending. Today was about helping children solve their problems. This technique is to be used when the problem is only the child’s. We went over roadblocks to communication – which surprisingly enough include questioning, advising, praising and sympathizing. We had a chance to “try out” using the different roadblocks with each other as we each took turns talking about a problem. We both used real life problems too. It was immediately obvious that the roadblocks truly are that. When helping a child, or anyone for that matter out, it is important to be accepting, genuine and empathetic towards the person. From there you can use skills such as attending, silence and active listening. We practiced active listening – which involves hearing facts and feeling and then responding in a way that the speaker knows that you are truly understanding. And the best part? If you aren’t understanding correctly, by sending it back to the speaker they can correct you so you do understand. Active listening is not simply repeating or rephrasing what was said, it is truly getting to the feelings and emotions behind the words.
It doesn’t sound difficult to do – in fact it sounds easy, but to actually practice it is a little more difficult. People are so ingrained in our responses to others that it’s hard to stop habits – especially those that feel right to us. So back to my first remark, about additional benefits? Z and I discussed problems that we are each individually having currently – that we haven’t discussed before. I learned that Z is not thrilled with his work environment, I knew to some extent, but we had never really talked about it. And he learned about some of my insecurities with the idea of homeschooling, and possibly unschooling, C & H. It felt really good to be discussing some of these things with each other, it’s so easy for us to focus on life and the girls and put our own personal troubles to the side.