I have to admit; I don’t remember what it’s like to have emotions so unstable you go from crying to laughing faster than Jimmy Johnson making a NASCAR lap. But I do witness this from time to time in my girl.
At moments like these, we think, “Here we go again” or “I’ve had a long day; I’m really not up for this!” We just want her to calm down. In an effort to move this process along we might even make remarks such:
“It’s going to be alright.”
“This isn’t that big of a deal.”
“Try to have some self-control!”
When we hurry to move our child past the emotions they are currently feeling, we communicate that their feelings are invalid. Our children may get the impression that we don’t care about the things they care about. The result: we cut off communication.
If, instead, we choose to listen and learn, we can hear the heart of our child. Beyond the tears and raised voice, there is a feeling that needs expression. Pain, rejection, excitement, acceptance. Listening past the words to hearing the heart will open doors for you to encourage more conversation, not shut off future communication.
Open dialog is the key to future opportunities to speak into your child’s life. Your listening ear today just may open the door to a child listening to you tomorrow.