Parents Corner

Reflective Listening


If you search on the term “reflective listening” you will get many different ways of being a reflective listener.

I find reflective listening a wonderful tool, but when I teach it to parents they say “that’s weird”. I tell them to go home and try it, and let me know how it’s going for them in a week’s time. Many parents come back and say “it really works”.

For parents of adolescents they say that reflective listening has changed the relationship between them and their young person.

Here is one way that I use reflective listening…

Child: Jack didn’t play with me at lunchtime today.
Parent: Oh, Jack didn’t play with you at lunchtime. (Same tone, same affect)
Child: Nup
Parent: Hmmm
Child: He played soccer with Caleb instead.
Parent: So, he played soccer with Caleb instead.
Child: Yeah
Parent: Yeah (with a big sigh)
Long silence.
Child: I think I’ll play soccer with Jack tomorrow.
Parent: You’ve decided to play soccer with Jack tomorrow. Sounds like a plan.

What do you notice about this interaction? The child solved his own problem.

Notice the absence of the parent giving advice. Notice the absence of the parent asking more questions. Notice the presence of silence and space, and this is the magic of it. Our kids are so used to us giving advice and asking lots of questions that they quite often don’t talk about their stuff because they don’t want the fuss or the lecture.

When you give kids lots of silence and space, they open up. Why? Because it is now emotionally safe to do so. Sometimes it takes a while for the child to get used to it, and the communications end quickly. Keep using it, they’ll get used to it.

Kids are clever. They usually have some idea of how they might go about solving their problems. After a good while of reflective listening, if the child hasn’t generated his own solutions, you might want to ask “I wonder what you might do about it?” and do some more reflective listening.

Article Written + Submitted by

Narelle Smith | Family Practitioner




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