How to effectively listen – a foster care training

Last fall I attended a foster care training called….

How to Talk So Everyone Will Listen

“Talking, listening and setting effective boundaries are essential skills for parents. This type of communication becomes even more valuable when the parent is dealing with individuals who have experienced significant emotional trauma. Participants will learn communication skills and ways to provide consequences relevant to the behavior.”

That was the description for this foster care training.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this training, because most of them are not relevant to my story. But this class was really informative and all around great. The basic principal is to really just listen to your child. If they are mad or sad or fustrated, listen to what their feelings are. Don’t immediately tell them to brush it off or it’s no big deal. Listen first and then say, “I am sure that made you feel bad that that happened. You must have got your feelings hurt”, or whatever the case may be. Show them you are really listening to what they are saying by repeating back to them what they have said and sympathizing. You probably can’t fix what has happened, but they can be heard and acknowledged. And a lot of times that is all people and children want, is someone to listen and know you understand and are truly hearing them. In the case of a child, often this will lead to trust and more information and eventually the root of the problem. This will help children and anyone for that matter feel like they have been heard and understood. Sometimes that can be the most important thing to a child.

In the case of a foster child with a lot of difficult emotions this can really help to break through with them. I have not personally fostered a child old enough to need this, but I know many people who have. Lots of children in the foster system have been exposed to things most adults wouldn’t even want to know about. All children and especially foster children need to feel like someone is listening. It might as well start with you.

This is a schedule of the trainings offered by IFAPA in Iowa.