The importance of deep listening when working with parents

Runtime 00:31:19
Released 1/5/23
Emerging Minds Podcast
Emerging Minds Podcast
The importance of deep listening when working with parents

In this episode, Belynda Smith shares her considerable experience in practicing deep, unhurried and supportive listening with parents, and how this process helps to build safe, healing and reflective environments.

Belynda Smith is a parenting facilitator at Meerilinga Young Children’s Foundation in Western Australia, as well as a certified Hand in Hand parenting instructor. Belynda has listened to many thousands of parents in her work at Meerilinga, helping them to provide their children with rich, safe and supported experiences.

As a parenting facilitator and instructor of the Hand in Hand parenting model, Belynda has used child-led play as a mechanism to help parents consider the lives and inner world of their children. Belynda’s work focuses on the core relationships between parents and children as the key ingredient in their social and emotional wellbeing and mental health. Meerilinga provides a safe and unhurried space for parents to describe challenges and obstacles, as well as creating opportunities to plan for change.

Belynda’s work at Meerilinga is based on the family partnership model which focuses on treating parents as the experts in their children’s lives. The model also commits to listening to children’s experiences and knowledge and recruiting them as partners in problem-solving and planning. This has included opportunities for parents to be genuinely listened to in supportive and non-blaming environments, creating significant change in their relationships with their children.

In this episode:

  • hear about ways to help children and parents feel like the experts in their own lives [5:47]
  • learn about listening partnerships as a peer support strategy which can help parents to increase their confidence in a non-judgmental space [11:52]
  • unpack how social and economic adversity can challenge parents, and how finding small moments of skill can help parents to develop the confidence to overcome challenges [13:47]
  • think about parents’ capacity and knowledge, and ways you can help them share this wisdom in calm and nurturing spaces [15:20]
  • learn how to provide an unhurried and regulating presence for parents, so they can describe and move past their feelings of overwhelm [20:16]
  • consider why it’s important to help parents to find the ‘bright spots’ in their parenting and to notice the things they are doing well [23:46]

Further resources:

Parent–child play and improving child mental health practice paper (Emerging Minds)

Child-focused practice for complex problems practice paper (Emerging Minds)


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