Arguing Logically vs. Listening Empathetically

It's hard for us parents to really listen to our kids when they get overly emotional.  We would rather explain the logic of the situation to them so we can show them there's no reason to be upset.  Here's an example:

Susie, stop crying.  Let's get going.  Everything is fine.  You'll have fun at school today.  Mrs. Jackson is a great teacher.  And all your friends will miss you if you don't go.  You're fine, sweetie.  I'll be back to pick you up in no time.

Does this approach work for you?  Not for me.  I'm slowly learning that when my kids get emotional and start sharing their feelings with me, it doesn't really help to apply logic to the situation.  It's better to just listen.

Dr. John Gottman, in his excellent book, Raising An Emotionally Intelligent Child, encourages parents to become empathetic listeners for their children.  We must be willing to see the situation from our child's perspective and enter in to what they are feeling.  When that happens our children sense that they are understood and therefore more willing to explore ideas of how to handle the situation in which they find themselves.

Obviously, this takes time.  And if you're like me, you're always in a rush to get things done and move on to the next thing.  But parenting reminds us that we need to stop and take time to listen.  In doing so, we'll teach our children how to deal with their emotions and become empathetic listeners for others.