Recently I read a story that got stuck in my head and I really want to share it with you. Before I told you several times already about a book called “Parent Effectiveness Training” by Thomas Gordon and I really recommend it to those of you who haven’t heard about it before. A book I’m talking about now is kind of like a continuation of the first one, it’s called “P.E.T. in action”. It’s created pretty much by his students, a lot of them sent letters to him in which they talked about their experiences after their P.E.T. course, how their lives changed, how their children’s lives changed. I think it was an awesome idea to write a book like this because it gives a real picture of everything and makes things easy for a lot of people.
One of the letters was written by a mother of a young boy who was divorced. The boy lived with his father because he had a bigger house, a room for him, could give him more. The woman, however, wasn’t able to afford herself and her son so he’d visit her on the weekends.
The boy had some problems with breathing, he often couldn’t catch his breath, he’d cough. Nobody really knew what was happening but after a while he was diagnosed with asthma. They started giving him meds but they didn’t work… They changed them to different ones which didn’t help either so they all were helpless and they weren’t sure if to try other options.
When one night the boy was going to sleep at his mother’s house he got an asthma attach and they both knew there was not much they could do. So then the woman decided to stay calm and… use active listening. She focused not only on what he had to say but mostly on his emotions, feelings.
She found out that it all seemed to him as if the walls were falling down. He thought that his whole world was falling down, that it was the end and he’d die. His mother used active listening for the whole time. Eventually he asked her how it all worked, why they divorced, he wanted to know all the details. So she explained everything, without hiding stuff. She also made sure that he knew it wasn’t his fault, that they both loved him and each one wanted to keep him but the father had better living.
Those falling walls, that falling world were… his family falling apart. The family he had before suddenly disappeared. All that confusion with the divorce, going from one house to another, lack of security, fear that he did something wrong. That’s why he had those attacks! It wasn’t asthma and meds weren’t necessary at all. It was a panic that his world was falling apart! It was this huge need to know that it wasn’t happening, that parents loved him and that they both fought for him.
His mother listening to him helped him to feel a relief and the attacks were all gone.
It really is stuck in my head and I don’t think I’ll ever forget it. Actually, I don’t really want to because it’s an important lesson. Lesson that we never know what’s happening to our children unless we give them a chance to share everything with showing them an understanding, acceptance, empathy. If a child says he’s scared because he thinks that the walls are going to fall down on him and his parent will say something like “stop playing around, go to sleep” and will go out… You know what can happen. Fear is real, serious. It’s not a silly thing, in most cases it’s not a kid’s imagination or anything. There are always reasons for this. Stress, fear, anxiety, lack of love and other issues like these can seriously affect an adult and left alone a child who in a lot of cases doesn’t really understand what happens. It’s important to remember this.
I’ll see you next time,
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