Our attachment therapist gave me the three above words to think about after the boys explosions yesterday. They are awesome words. We would all generally say we listen to our kids and spouses. But what does REALLY listening mean?
Listen: Taking the time to stop what you are doing and hear what they are saying. What are they really trying to say and what are they really feeling? When a child explodes about getting a detention and blames the universe are they saying "I hate you all and take no responsibility?" or are they actually saying "I am so frustrated. I am ashamed I blew it again and that I am not doing better and so I sure hope it is someones else's fault and not mine." Think about what is behind the surface words.
Attunement: Being in tune to their emotions and feelings. Look them in the eye lovingly and let them talk. Gently put your hand on a shoulder or arm and let them know you care about what they are going through. Don't worry so much about consequences or whose fault it is at that moment. Think about what is driving the behavior and if the child is feeling sad, glad, mad or scared. If it is mad that is usually a result of sad or scared so go in a little deeper.
Validation: Giving acknowledgment and value to their feelings. "I can see why you would feel that way" "It must be frustrating." "It must hurt your feelings." Show them with your words that what they feel is understandable and not odd or different.
Our goal is to teach them that we are safe and loving parents they can trust, not to WIN each battle.