How Your Child Feels Seen and Heard

untitled-designDo you remember the old Verizon commercial where a man would go out to different remote parts of the country and ask “Can you hear me now?” as he spoke on the phone? Sometimes I imagine that is what it must be like for some children. Children so desperately want the attention and affection of their parents. I can imagine a child saying “Can you hear me? Can you see me? Are we still connected?” In the commercial, the man always got the response “yes” because he would follow his question with a pause and an enthusiastic “Good”. However, this is not always the case for children.

One major way that parents can help their child to feel seen and heard is through the way they communicate. Meaning- how they listen and respond. When children share with their parents, they often do not know how to express the deeper meaning. It might feel like they are upset about something trivial. Therefore, it is up to the parent to look for the hidden meaning. What is the child really trying to say? Once the parent realizes the hidden meaning, they can then reflect the child’s feelings back to them. “When children feel understood, their loneliness and hurt diminish. When children are understood, their love for the parent deepens. A parent’s sympathy serves as emotional first aid for bruised feelings. When we genuinely acknowledge a child’s plight and voice their feelings, they often gather strength to face reality” (Ginott, p. 8). Just by acknowledging their child’s feelings, parents have the power to change the direction of the conversation. In order to acknowledge their child’s feelings, this might mean that parents have to unlearn old ways of interacting with their child(ren). Although difficult, it is not impossible!

Another way to help your child feel seen and heard is though praise. Children want to hear the things that they have done well. Parents (let’s be real, humans) can tend to focus more on the things that are wrong, rather than on the things that are right. A great way to administer praise is by clearly stating what you like and appreciate about your child’s effort, help, work, consideration, creation or accomplishments. Rather than making a general statement “You are smart,” it can be more meaningful to recognize the effort that the child put into their work through specific praise. Praise should be a “description that details delight and admiration, words that convey recognition of effort, and statements that transmit respect and understanding” (Ginott, p. 35).

Acknowledging and reflecting your child’s feelings as well as offering specific praise are two easy ways to help your child feel seen and heard. Sometimes, despite our best efforts, we find that we need additional help in connecting with our children and our families. The Refuge Center for Counseling strives to help families figure out their differences and find new ways to connect. You can find more information about us at RefugeCenter.org.

The information used in this blog is taken from Between Parent and Child : The Bestselling Classic that Revolutionized Parent-Child Communication by Dr. Haim G. Ginott

2017 at The Refuge Center for Counseling Kicks Off With Staffing Changes

Connie Kinder has served as Clinical Director of The Refuge Center with passion and excellence. At the time she accepted, she gave a three year commitment, ending this January. As most are aware, in late 2016 our former Director of Compassionate Care, Linda Bennett, lost her hard fought battle with cancer. We miss her and feel her presence daily. Her position has been open for 8 months and it is time for us to see that program continue with strong leadership, deep empathy, attunement and gentle hands. Connie will be stepping into this role as our new Director of Compassionate Care. Linda would be so proud of this. She is a gardener by nature and will tend to the hearts and relationships here with the same patient and tender approach that she does with nature.

Amy Alexander, our Executive Director, and Connie began praying together about who the next Clinical Director at The Refuge Center would be almost nine months ago. Effective this month, Lynde Ross, will be The Refuge Center for Counseling’s Clinical Director. She previously served as Assistant Clinical Director. Lynde is full of cutting-edge ideas, discernment and compassion. It is Lynde’s desire for all our therapists, interns, and volunteers at The Refuge Center to feel connected and seen.

After much consideration and prayer, we asked Anita Pringle, to join us as our new Assistant Clinical Director. Anita brings a wealth of wisdom to this role. After decades of pastoring and then serving at inpatient facilities while becoming licensed, Anita has many years of servant leadership experience and great clinical insight. She is tender, approachable, reliable and also quite funny! Anita will have a great deal of administrative duty as related to our clinical best practices. She will also be overseeing much of the continuing education programs at The Refuge Center.

Also effective in January 2017, Tina Taylor Goode is our new Director of Intern Programs here at The Refuge Center. We are so grateful to have Tina in this role, as she was an intern at The Refuge Center and knows the program well. She brings a commitment to excellence and a passion for the mission of The Refuge Center to the intern program.

If you have any questions about The Refuge Center, our staff, or our programs, please reach out to us at 615-591-5262 or info@therefugecenter.org.