Listening to your Child
Separating from a partner can be a time of high emotion & conflict. It’s important to be aware that children can pick up on these emotions & might need to talk about the situation. As a parent or carer, it’s vital to listen carefully to what your child is telling you & be in the best position to respond to their needs.
Try to set your own emotions aside & see things from their perspective. We have provided some simple steps you can take to actively listen & respond to your child, which might be helpful during this difficult time.
As a parent, it’s important to be emotionally ready when listening to your child. This means acknowledging any negative thoughts or feelings you may have towards the other parent & putting them aside so you can truly hear your child’s feelings.
Remember, your child may not be experiencing things the same way you are. It’s important to try to see things from their perspective. Even if your child isn’t showing visible signs of distress, they could still be experiencing intense emotions.
To be the best parent you can be, you need to understand & manage your own emotional state first. Only then can you truly understand & help manage your child’s feelings.
It’s completely normal for you to feel a range of big emotions when going through a separation or divorce. It’s important to acknowledge & accept these feelings, rather than trying to suppress them.
Common emotions include worry, anger, guilt, jealousy, sadness, powerlessness, betrayal, shock, frustration, fear, loneliness, insecurity, & feelings of rejection & mistrust.
The intensity of these emotions can vary depending on factors such as the length of the relationship, communication with the other parent, & whether the decision to end the relationship was mutual or not.
When it comes to your children, it’s important to be able to set your emotions aside & listen to their feelings without judgment. Try to see things from their perspective & manage your own emotional state before helping them manage theirs.
How will Emotional Readiness help?
It’s important to put aside your own emotions in order to be able to pick up on the signs of what your children might be feeling. To help you become emotionally ready & communicate better with your child, there are three steps you can take ~
Step 1 ~
Acknowledge your feelings by accepting them and managing them. You may find it helpful to write down your emotions & put a label on how you feel to help you feel in control. Managing your emotions means acknowledging that they are there. Then, not letting them get in the way when you listen & respond to your children.
You will know you are emotionally ready when you can shift your focus from your own feelings about the relationship to the well-being of your children. This process will take time & effort, but it will help you be in the best position to respond to your children’s needs during this difficult time.
Step 2 ~
When communicating with your child during a separation, it’s important to stay calm & keep your emotions in check. Try simple exercises such as relaxing your shoulders, checking for tension in your fingers & jaw, & taking deep breaths from your diaphragm.
If you need to, take a break to refocus before listening to your child. Practice active listening. Try not to think about your own response while your child is speaking, repeat back what you have heard to ensure understanding.
It’s helpful to practice this skill with day-to-day concerns before discussing bigger issues. By learning to listen effectively, you will be better equipped to support your child during this difficult time.
Step 3 ~
When talking to your child during a separation, it’s important to be supportive & reassuring. Staying calm & actively listening can help you achieve this. It’s also helpful to put yourself in your child’s shoes & focus on their perspective.
- By reassuring your child, you can prevent them from feeling worried, insecure, or angry. However, you should only provide reassurance if it’s possible & based on realistic examples. For instance, you could tell your child that they will see their Dad on a specific day, rather than giving vague assurances.
- It’s important to be honest & ongoing when talking to your child about uncertain situations. If there are things you are not yet sure you can guarantee, you can tell your child, “We don’t know yet, but we will work on it.” Keep them updated as & when you can give them more information.
- For example, if you are planning to move to a new area where they can still attend the same school, but you don’t know if it’s possible yet. Let them know that you will update them as soon as you have more information. By being honest & keeping your child informed, you can help them feel more secure & reduce their anxiety.
- When reassuring your children, it’s important to be honest & clear about what they can rely on, things that aren’t changing, such as their school, friends, & routines. If changes are going to be made, make sure to communicate them clearly & let them know how you will help them through it. If possible, reassure them about how & when they will remain in contact with the parent they don’t live with & in what way.
Depending on their age & capacity, involve them in making choices about the changes that will take place & make sure to follow through on what you have promised.
Coping with Divorce ~ we can help
No matter where you are along your separation journey, we can help you. We regularly see people in the early stages of separation or even before a final separation has happened.
If you’re facing a challenging situation, rest assured that we’re here to offer useful advice & assistance. Our goal is to enable you to make the right choices for yourself & your overall health.
Remember to prioritise your own needs & emotions & seek out any resources or help that can aid in that.