I had a very special though traumatic experience with active listening and acknowledgment of feelings this past weekend.
My 6 year old son, Conor, who is a very keen soccer player was practising in the garden late Saturday afternoon. As he kicked his soccer ball our one year golden retiever puppy went to catch it. Unfortunately he got Conor's leg as well. Though he let go quickly he had bitten into the calf.
Blood pouring, child screaming we rushed off to the emergency room at Constaniaberg.
As I was driving, Conor was near hysteria on the backseat with his dad.
I was trying to drive and keep my little guy calm.
All I wanted to say is you are going to fine! dont worry ! And stop screaming!
Instead I acknowledged his feelings by saying:
" Conor it sounds like you are in a lot of pain. It sounds like you are very sore right now"
Conor " Yes! It feels like there is popping candy in my leg" I'm going to die!!!!"
Me " It sounds like you are feeling scared, you dont know what is going to happen and that you are afraid you might die."
Conor " yes! Will I die?"
After acknowledging his pain and fear and listening to him he calmed down and stopped screaming hysterically .I was then able to explain what was happening and that he was going to be alright. I explained what would happen when we got the hospital and he was now quite calm and prepared.
We were also able to speak about our puppy and how Conor was feeling he never wanted to play with Jock ever again. Again I just listened and acknowledged his feelings, letting him speak without offering my opion.
He came to his own conclusion that Jock just wanted to play and did it by accident. I feel if I might have pushed my view that it was an accident Conor would have insisted it was on purpose.......as has happened many times in the past. I chose to listen rather than tell him what was true in my view.
Needless to say when we got the hospital and everyone saw him and his injury he was the one saying not worry, he was going to be ok ,and proceded to explained what had happened and what was going to happen.
He was quite calm and ready for the injection and four stitches.
And when we got home and Jock was waiting for him he gave him a big hug and told him not to worry. He understood it was an accident.
Though it was quite a traumatic event, I realise the power of effective listening and by just listening and acknowledging Conor's feelings what a significant impact it has had on our relationship and how much he trusts me.