You know where else reflective listening works? Toddlers.
Or at least this is what the smart books about developmental psychology together with developmental psychologists tell us.
“Mama, more bear! More bear!” – when I hear this, it means that my almost-two-year old wants to watch more of Masha and the Bear and if I do not turn the TV back on, the world will come to an end. In moments like this, I am trying to be a supermom and use reflective listening to prove, first of all to my self, that I am doing it right and that I respect her feelings. Countless times I fail.
– Maya, I can see that you want to watch more Masha and the Bear.
– Yeah (sobbing and crying).
– Maya, I understand that you are upset that I turned off the TV. You have watched enough for today.
– No!!!!!!! More bear!!! (crying as if I am physically hurting her)
– Maya, I am very sorry that you are so upset. Would you like to play with Play Doh instead?
– No! (still sobbing but is already going towards Play Doh and books).
Thank God it worked this time. But other times I am too exhausted to even think of being a supermom. Sometimes she is sick and I understand that I am giving in because she simply feels cranky and to hell with reflective listening as I just want to make her feel better. Even if it means watching Masha and the Bear for 1,000, 456th time. Sometimes, I use it as a tool to make her eat more and I know that this is wrong but I do not have energy to fight over every bite, so Masha and the Bear it is if it means more food goes inside rather than on the floor.
We are told to respect their feelings. We are told to comment on their actions to make them more confident. We are told about dangers of processed foods for tiny growing bodies. We are told so many things. And reflective listening is one of them.
I am honest with you, it doesn’t always work for me because I do not always have the patience / time / energy to do it. Sometimes I grab her and put a jacket on her even though she is screaming. Sometimes, I lay her down on bed to put a diaper on her even though she is screaming. Sometimes, I pick her up so that we can go upstairs faster even though she is screaming. Sometimes I am not a supermom. Sometimes I feel awful.
But sometimes we sit down and talk and I reflect and she hugs me and kisses me. And that’s all that matters.