Yesterday while I was working at a coffee shop, a mom was putting on her son's shoes.
He told her it hurt and she replied, "No it doesn't" and kept putting the shoe on while he closed his eyes real tight.
I wanted to say, "How do you know?"
How do you know that doesn't hurt? He is telling you it hurts, but you are not hearing him. He may still need to put on his shoe, but can you find another way?
Why do we believe that we know what our kids are feeling?
The only way we can truly know what another person is feeling is to ask them and then trust their answer. We do this with adults, but for some reason it's different with our kids.
Maybe since we believe they are "ours" we think they should feel similar to us, even though we are grown adults with countless experiences.
Maybe we don't listen because we are in a hurry and we don't want to hear, we just want to keep moving.
Maybe we don't listen because when we were little, we weren't heard.
But regardless of the reason, it's an important question to consider.
Actually, there are so many good questions to ask ourselves when we are parenting…
A child is scared of a spider and is told he shouldn't be because he is a boy and because he is too old.
Is this really true?
A child is angry and she is told she's a brat and that good girls don't say those things.
What does it mean to be a "good girl" and why is she a "brat" if she speaks her mind?
This is where it all begins, this is where their sense of worth and identity are being realized. Am I heard and accepted when I have pain, sadness, or anger, or am I told to feel and be otherwise?
As parents it's not our job to tell our children how to feel, but to listen as they express how they feel. Our job is much simpler - listen, validate, support.
It doesn't mean that the children will always get their way and it doesn't mean that they can walk all over us. We just honor that they have a voice, that what they said has value, that what they are experiencing has been witnessed.
Children will hear us if we hear them. They will respect what we say if we respect what they say. That's the basis of any great relationship, that's love in action.
How do I know? I guess I don't know for sure, but it's definitely how I feel.
Cathy Adams is a certified parenting coach, yoga instructor and mother to three girls.
See more of Cathy's stories here.