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May 10, 2011

The Argument Squelcher

Written by Dr. Carosso

Lets set the scene:
You get into an argument with your spouse. You know your point is valid but you’re having trouble getting your mate to acknowledge your view;  instead, he just wants to “move on” and “forget about it.” So, he tries to change the subject and you’re left feeling unheard and misunderstood. You’re simply not ready to “move on” and you feel ‘stuck’ and frustrated.  As you're stewing over the problem, you think that, if only your point of view was acknowledged, even in disagreement, you’d feel more at-ease and prepared to move-on. Well, the same thing happens every time you want to “move on” past your child’s disappointment, frustration, anger, or problem.

Scene II:
Okay, here’s the next scenario: your child complains that he doesn't want to stop playing that new video game you just purchased for him, to empty the trash. You abruptly respond, in irritated fashion, for him to follow your direction “NOW” and ignore his obvious frustration.

Reflection to avoid rejection
Okay, I know what you're thinking;  there are situations when there is simply no time for discussing the matter; nevertheless, you may find that, just as with your prior argument with your spouse, that a simple and quick ‘reflective’ comment, acknowledging your child’s feelings, would help him to more quickly move beyond his feelings and carry-out the assigned task.

For example, a comment such as “I understand it’s frustrating to be taken away from your new game. After you finish the chore you can return to playing”  may prove to be quite helpful.  Feeling ‘heard’ is extraordinarily powerful; it bolsters a sense of comfort and then allows for moving beyond, and past, the problem at hand.

The Alternative?
Otherwise, we tend to feel ‘stuck’ in the argument. Reflective listening is vital in all relationships, for issues that are both pleasant (“you're really happy you got an A on that test, you worked so hard…”) and not to pleasant (“you feel sad that your friend didn’t show-up, that can be disappointing”). In regards to this latter situation regarding the friend not showing up, the child will sense his feelings were acknowledged and more likely be willing to move forward to problem-solving, e.g. “why don’t you call your friend Timothy and see if he wants to come over instead.”  In the absence of reflective listening, there is a tendency for your child to become argumentative (“I’m not calling Timmy, I wanted Jim to be here…”).

Spread the reflections:
You can more readily avoid such conflicts with your child, and with any other person in your life, by listening for, and acknowledging, their feelings. Try it; you may find yourself feeling happier too.

Feel free to comment forward to a friend:)   God bless

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