October 20, 2010

The Secret of Active Listening

Both girls were screaming at the top of their lungs as I pulled away from the book club meeting.  We were leaving early.  

It started when Funny Girl had gotten upset that she wasn't able to hold any of the animal flash cards.  She'd come over to tell me, and I'd encouraged her to ask for help.  When it was time to draw a picture, she sat at the end of the table crying. So I went over to talk to her.   This time she couldn't reach the crayons.  I recognized the beginning of a meltdown and decided it was best to leave.  It was too hectic (and public) to pull her off to the side where she would have the space and time to work through her emotions.  Plus Dimples was constantly asking me to feed her.  So we left.

After the screaming there was a lot of crying, and then anger.  Finally she told me, "It feels like you don't love me anymore.  It feels like you don't want me to be in a book club."  This was what I had been waiting for.  Now I could practice active listening.  

I listened, I decoded, and I let Funny Girl have ownership of the problem.  After a while she told me, "I needed to ask Miss Grace for help."  

"What could you have done to get her attention?"

"I could whistle at her!  But I don't know how to whistle yet.  I should practice." 

"Yes, you could learn to whistle.  Is there anything else you could do to get someone's attention?"

"I could say, 'Excuse me.'  But what if she didn't hear me?  Then I wouldn't have gotten any help!"

"Did you try to say excuse me?"

"No, because I didn't know if she would hear me."

"How will you know if you don't try?"

*Lightbulb goes on*

"That's just what Brendan says in the Secret of Kells!!  He says if he doesn't try, the book might not get completed."

"Does he try?"


"And does he complete the book?"


All of a sudden, everything is different.  She's sad that she missed the book club, but she has the tools she needs for next time.   


  1. Wait! May I ask a question? I feel like you left out the part most interesting to me. She said, "It feels like you don't love me anymore. It feels like you don't want me to be in a book club."

    How did you respond in that moment? What did you say? How did she eventually get to her conclusion?

  2. Meredith- I'll fill in the details in a new post for you :)

  3. Miss Grace feels sad that Elly left book club today. Miss Grace felt overwhelmed with 8 wee ones so excited about Zooman Sam. (But isn't it awesome when kids really love a book?) Miss Grace should stop referring to herself as Miss Grace - it drives Miss Grace crazy when people do that.

    Ok, I stayed up too late at moms night last night.....

    Glad you two got to a good resolution.

  4. Oh man that is such a hard situation isn't it! Do I go or do I stay. I think in the end you came to a good resolution though.

  5. Miss Grace cracks me up!

    Kylie - I agree! Fortunately it's a little easier with my girls because they have these ear piercing screams when they are upset. When I see them getting to that point, it's a no brainer!