Simply listening to your child, no matter their age, is an impactful parenting tool that strengthens your relationship as well as helps them regulate their emotions. It's easy to tap into the power of listening.
I’m sure you can recall a scenario when you vented to a spouse or a trusted friend, letting your feelings scatter all over the place, not necessarily looking for a solution or an answer, just searching for someone to be with you so you felt seen and heard. And after you let your thoughts flow without judgement, you probably felt better.
It’s the same for your child, but their situation might look different because they’re not adults. They need you to help regulate their emotions. They’re still processing out loud, much like we adults often do, but instead of warning you ahead of time that they only need a listening ear, it comes out rapidly in the form of whining, a tantrum, or worse. When they’re overtired and they meltdown, they aren’t looking for a solution. When they’re scared and feel insecure, they’re not looking for an answer. When they’re angry about something and they begin to complain, they aren’t looking for a lecture. In all those scenarios, what they’re really looking for is an adult to help them feel seen and heard, and connected which help to form strong relationships. Once you repeat what they’re feeling and experiencing, their brains can relax their bodies.
Listening to your child isn’t the same as agreeing with their negative behavior. In fact, listening to anyone isn’t the same as agreeing with them. Listening to someone validates they have value, they’re important, and they matter.
Listening to your child (even when they complain) lets them release what they’ve been keeping inside, opening the path toward emotional regulation, growth, and self-discipline. And after listening, if you can reflect back to them what you’ve heard and what they feel, that's even better.
This is what parent coaching is, ultimately. It’s listening to you and supporting you to improve connections with your child which leads to easier behavior and better relationships.