One of my original thoughts for this blog was that I wanted a space to document everything that I was going through (like a journal), as well as a space for me to write about what I’ve been watching or reading. Hence the notebook part of Nick’s Notebook.
Recently, I finished chapter 1 of the Richest Man in Babylon, but I haven’t finished any the activities associated with it, from a money focused group I’ve joined. I’m not ready to dive much into that yet; however, I’ve also read chapter 1 of How to talk so kids will listen and listen so kids will talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish.
Learning how to talk to my kids more effectively has been on my to-do list for a long time. I’ve looked around for various books or articles on the subject, but I never actually pulled the trigger and did the deep work needed on the subject.
So, how did I stumble on this book and why did I get started? Timing. As I was miserably pumping my face full of food at the camp, I decided (like most people do) that Monday had to be the day. Randomly browsing twitter, I came across a tweet from Mike Cernovich (author of Guerrilla Mindset) who recommended the book. As luck would have it, it was free for those who had kindle unlimited (which my wife does), so I concluded that because someone I respect had recommended reading something on a subject I knew I needed to, I would pick it up.
The first chapter is on helping children deal with their feelings. There’s a direct connection between how kids feel and how they behave. If kids feel right, they will behave right. We make our kids feel right by accepting their feelings as they are. “A steady denial of kids feelings can confuse and enrage children. It also teaches them not to know what their feelings are” and “not to trust them.”
In an effort to help you, as the parent, understand how to accept your children’s feelings, the authors first provide a series of statements a child would make and they want you to write down what you would say if you were denying a child’s feelings.
It was pretty easy to do. A breeze, I thought. No problem. Wrong. Big problem – which I realized moments into the next paragraph of the book. It shouldn’t be that easy to achieve. It’s not an accomplishment to be able to write down quickly how you would deny someones feelings. I’m sure that is what this exercise is trying to show you – without much effort, you can deny your children’s feelings. For some context, here was my answer to the statement I had a dumb birthday part (after you went all out to make it a wonderful day).
Wow. That’s rude. Maybe you should try being a little grateful. Not all kids get a birthday party you know. We worked really hard on this just for you and this is how you are going to act? Unbelievable.
In an effort to try and help you understand how your kids might feel, the author then gives you a scenario in which your boss has asked you to do a project, quickly, that you didn’t accomplish. You try and explain yourself, but the boss doesn’t want to hear it and storms out. The exercise gives you 8 different friends who react to the news in different ways when you try and discuss it with them. They either: deny your feelings, give you a philosophical response, advice, ask questions, defend your boss, pity you, become an amateur psychoanalyst or give you an emphatic response. You are to write down how the communication style makes you feel.
The emphatic response, as you might expect, was the nicest and easiest to stomach. The amateur psychologist I felt was just someone I would ignore. The philosophical response and the advice both felt condescending. The pity just felt fake to me and when the person started defending the boss (over helping me), the words “F*** you” came to my mind. The person who asked questions was a mixed bag for me: some of the questions seemed help and the others made me feel as if the person thought I was just dumb.
I was surprised that the example where the person denied my feeling really didn’t bother me that much. It felt just like the standard response people give to situations like this. Maybe I’ve just become numb to this way of talking. I’ve noted that in my book with a few extra stars to come back to. It was a red flag to me and something I think I need to pay attention to on this little journey.
The author give you 4 ways to help children deal with their feelings:
- Listen with your full attention (and don’t give them lip service when it comes to listening. You can’t listen AND watch the big game at the same time.)
- Acknowledge their feelings with a word (“oh”, “Hmmm” , “I see”. Also, don’t, give them the answer right away – use those words to let them figure it out)
- Give feelings a name (ie: you feel angry, I see that you are feeling disappointed)
- Give them their wishes in fantasy (like the statement: “If I had a magic wand, I would make insert whatever they want appear before us!”
The final exercise has you look at a few statements and write out how you acknowledge a child’s feelings and provides you a few statements from a child to work with. I felt this section fit well with the topic but was the least beneficial section. Finding out how easy it was for me to deny was eye opening. I found in this section that I knew how to acknowledge their feelings easily as well, it just wasn’t my default.
Overall, I’m happy with the first chapter and it has opened my eyes enough that I’ll definitely finish. The authors want me to practice, for a week, acknowledging my kids feelings before going onto the next chapter, so that’s what I’ll do. I’ll summarize the next chapter again once it’s complete.