One of the most regulating and affirming practices we can offer our child is to “see them and hear them”. It can build your child’s self-confidence and also calm them. Here’s why many parents struggle with this.
We’re most capable of seeing and hearing our child when we have our own need to be seen and heard met. It’s super hard to meet this for our child when we don’t.
Many parents don’t have this need met, and it *is* a basic need. They have busy lives. Also, they may not have had this need fully met in childhood either, and now they’re in adult relationships in which they’re not seen and heard.
As a result, they (without realizing it) end up trying to be seen and heard by their kids in interaction with them.
If you’ve ever been trying to get your kids to cooperate, and:
➡️ explained to them how you feel hoping they’d understand, and then
➡️ had them disregard your feelings and still persist with what they’ve wanted, and
➡️ as a result you felt either disappointed, angry or irritated with them,
this may be what’s going on.
Ask yourself, “Was I hoping they’d “get it”?”
And maybe you were even hoping they’d change their mind as a result of getting it.
Seeing and hearing someone requires keeping the focus on them, and doing your best to understand them. It often also involves empathizing or celebrating or identifying with what they’re feeling in some way.
That’s hard to do if you’re feeling anxious or worried or have some other emotion arising that needs tending to.
I’ve found that it’s most helpful to get your parental need to be seen and heard met by another adult–a good friend, a partner, or a coach or therapist. If no one else is available at that moment, you can also do this for yourself, through journaling or a practice of self-reflection.
After you’ve gotten your need met, you’re much more capable of holding space for your child and seeing/hearing them without adding on some version of, “but this is how I’m feeling”.
There may be times when it’s appropriate to let your older child know how you’re feeling, but it’s best to do this after you’ve gotten your need to be seen/heard and understood by an adult. In that case, you won’t be “needy”–you’ll be helping them gain awareness of how their actions impact others. You’ll bring an entirely different energy to the interaction and you’ll be less attached to your child’s response.
Does this resonate? In what situations do you feel disappointed or irritated with your child when they don’t *get* how their behaviour is making you feel? How do you get your need to be seen/heard met?
(PS: If you’ve been doing this, don’t feel bad! Even after you learn, you’ll still likely slip. I do. It’s a practice. Make yourself some reminders, and start again ❤️)
**Image Credit: Robert Collins, Unsplash