Research shows that it takes adults about 3 years while living in country to learn the language of that country. Because of more neuroplasticity in younger minds, it takes children younger than 10 years old to learn that foreign language in only 3 months under the same conditions. At any rate, learning a foreign language is out of our comfort zone and tough under any circumstances.
For parents, active listening your children is like learning a foreign language. We seem to be hard wired to answer questions from our children, solve their problems, divide and direct when they are fighting with each other, kiss and make it all better when they are hurting. All of these parenting responses have value and help children make it to adulthood, but active listening, or empathy, is the go-to, primary response when we see our child's emotional fever rising. As we reflect what we think they are feeling, their emotional fever goes down. If we jump in with solutions, directions, perspective before the fever has broken, our wisdom will be lost to them. Whatever good we might say when they are hurting will be received as criticism, judgment, and put-downs by them. "I'm bad. I can't do it right." When we first empathize, actively listen, and find their feelings so that their emotional fever goes down, then we join with them in helping them solve their own problems. Want to learn a foreign language? Try active listening with your children.