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  • Writer's pictureTamsin Hartley

A Listening Space for parents

Updated: Jan 21, 2021

I’ve recently started running Listening Space courses for parents in which participants are:

  • introduced to models of human behaviour to help them understand their own thoughts and emotions better – such as Steve Peters’ Chimp Paradox

  • experience powerful new ways of listening deeply to themselves and to others using Clean Language questions, and

  • are given tools to help nurture healthy relationships within the family.

I interviewed one participant, whose children are 8 and 6 years old, to find out more about the impact that the course had for her:

‘I kept saying to myself, ‘If only I’d known all of this sooner!’

I thought, if I can share this with the kids they’d learn not to presume things. They’d learn that everyone experiences life in different ways, and that you really have to listen and ask more questions to get a better understanding of people.

So, I sat down with them and said, ‘We’re going to learn about Chimp brains today. Did you know that you have two sides to your brain?’

I didn’t think they were going to be interested, but straight away they were so engaged. It was like a lightbulb going off in their heads – ‘Oh, that’s why I do that!’

I think it created a sense of security for them because now they understand that it’s not bad to have certain feelings. It’s OK to feel angry or sad. And when they do feel like that, we can try to find something that’s going to work for them, to help them calm down – maybe take 5 minutes out in their room, and then we can talk about what happened just before they went crazy.

We borrowed Steve Peter's book for children on the Chimp Paradox and had fun doing some of the activities in it – like drawing and naming our inner Chimps!

We’re now calling each other out if we’re getting a bit upset about something; asking, ‘Is that your Chimp?’

The whole process of wiping your feet on the metaphoric Welcome Mat and using Clean questions has really helped us to listen, connect, and understand our emotions better.

As a parent, you’re just rushing around from one thing to the next – dinner, homework, bedtime routine. This course helped me realise how important it is for me to be in the right frame of mind to have conversations with my kids. We now find a time, just before bed, where we can really listen to each other. I want to keep up that communication between us, because it’s really come on a lot.

It was also a big thing for me when someone held a Listening Space for me on the course. By getting in touch with the feelings I had that day I realised that all of the answers were there inside me. But I needed to sit back and have the space to notice them.

I think that’s one of the key things I’ve taken away from this is that sometimes you have to be still to get in touch with yourself. You need that space to explore and not feel rushed, to feel like nothing’s right and nothing’s wrong. A space where you can say what you’re feeling and what you’re thinking at that time, because it’s coming from somewhere.

Hearing about other people’s parenting problems was also helpful. It gives you the feeling that you’re coming from the same place as a parent. It gives you a sense of security.

Being a parent doesn’t come with a manual, and everybody is different. This course gave us the fundamentals of how to bring a Listening Space to family life, and make it work for you in your own way. The process keeps it simple, so you don’t need to be scared of it. You can just give it a go.

If you’d like to learn more about the Listening Space for Parents courses, then please do contact me.

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