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Mom: That must make you really disappointed. I know you were looking forward to it.

Rebecca: Yeah, just because some kids don’t behave, we all have to get punished!

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Mom: Yeah, I see.

Rebecca: I can’t believe my teacher. She is really an idiot.

Mom: Your teacher is making you feel upset.

Rebecca: Yeah, why do we all have to suffer because of a few stupid girls?

Mom: You feel you’re suffering because of some of the girls.

Rebecca: That’s right.

Notice how the active listening parent is allowing her child to speak about her feelings and not trying to solve her problems. By doing so, she is building trust and communicating to Rebecca that she can always approach her mother when she is upset.

Steven Gets Punched

Here, Steven’s mother is not using active listening techniques.

Steven: Chaim punched me today during lunchtime.

Mom: What a jerk that kid is!

Steven: Yeah, he’s an idiot.

Mom: You better believe it.

Steven: I’m going to kill him tomorrow!

Mom: Tell him never to touch you again.

Steven: I’m first going to tell the Rebbe.

Mom: Tell him how bad that kid is and that he should be punished.

Using active listening produces an entirely different conversation.

Steven: Chaim punched me today during lunchtime.

Mom: Chaim punched you.

Steven: Yeah, he’s an idiot.

Mom: I see.

Steven: I’m going to kill him tomorrow!

Mom: Getting punched really hurt you.

Steven: Yeah, I’m going to tell the Rebbe.

Mom: I hear how much you want Chaim to stop punching you.

Steven: That’s right.

 

Rabbi Daniel Schonbuch, MA, is a Marriage and Family Therapist specializing in marriage counseling and teens at risk. He is the author of “At Risk – Never Beyond Reach” and “First Aid for Jewish Marriages.” To order a copy, visit www.JewishMarriageSupport.com. For an appointment call 646-428-4723.

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