• P.E.T. South Africa

Helping a child make sense of stress

South African families are under a lot of stress. Concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic, unrest, and socio-economic issues are at a peak. And again, parents find themselves juggling multiple roles at home as the country remains in lockdown.

There is no doubt that stress is all around us, and the important thing not to forget is that our children are also seeing, hearing, and experiencing tension. Childhood might seem carefree, but in fact, they can also feel uncertain and overwhelmed. Therefore, as a parent, you must pay attention to what your child communicates and how they behave. These are key indicators that your child might be having difficulty processing something. One skill that can help you in unpacking their emotions is Active Listening.

Active Listening is an essential tool to helping children make sense of what is happening around them; it helps them gain confidence, make healthy decisions, and relieves anxiety. Below, we break down what we mean by Active Listening, and we hope it can help you help them.


  • Active Listening is feeding back the sender's message in the listener's own words, reflecting or mirroring the feelings and content of the sender's communication.

  • Active Listening is the skill that will best express the three helping characteristics: empathy, acceptance, genuineness, and assist the child in resolving their problem.

  • Active Listening is a unique way of reflecting what the child has expressed to let them know you are listening and to check your understanding of the child's meaning.

  • Active Listening is a restatement of the child's total communication, both the facts/topics of the message and the accompanying feelings.

  • Active Listening requires that you put yourself in the child's position, try to get a sense of the child's thoughts and feelings and then share your understanding with warmth and acceptance.

  • Active Listening enables you and the child to understand the experience the child is having.

Source: Gordon Training International

Parents can offer support to help children better manage life's challenges by being available, listening actively and responding thoughtfully. What makes Active Listening so powerful is that it leads to mutual understanding. In addition, it alleviates stress in knowing that someone (my parent) is genuinely listening.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this communication is not to be construed as medical advice. Consult a professional on any medical or psychological concerns. The articles and blogs are posted only as opinion or ideas, and are general in nature. The administrator takes no responsibility for any action or outcome a reader may make as a result of reading a post.

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