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Empathy, Vulnerability and Asking for Their Help

Empathy, Vulnerability and Asking for Their Help

Written by Jacqui Bowden

When working on new ways to build a lasting connection with my 4.5 year old son, on top of using my P.E.T. skills religiously, I like to get creative and find new ways we can evolve and make learning fun for him.

Recently after another playgroup meltdown over sharing, my beautiful little only child was very aware that he had suffered a big reaction over having to share his favourite yellow dump truck. Lying in bed and harnessing the wisdom of no problem time I was able to active listen him and came to realise that he was now embarrassed about having to go back to playgroup. So now, we were not only ironing out the earlier sharing problem, but facing another challenge next week.

I took a couple of quiet seconds to myself to enter that empathic sweet spot and recalled the feelings of embarrassment over my own actions and choices at times in the past. I tried to access memories in which I remember feeling anxious about how I would face others after my behaviour. In that moment I remembered how lonely and daunting it felt to be embarrassed like he was. A very deep sense of how his world must feel in that moment came over me.

Right then I decided that I would openly express my own vulnerability and hope he connected to this. I declared that I had been struggling with something in my life and asked would he be willing to ‘help me out’? 

I explained that I had been noticing myself rushing a lot and that it made me feel very pressured and exhausted. I communicated that ‘I wanted to change’ but I still found it hard to stop myself in the moment. He listened and cuddled in gently. Instantly I felt him relax at the fact that he wasn’t the only person making mistakes on a daily basis, or, who had behaviour that needed addressing.

I followed on saying ‘Max, I need your help to change this pattern of mine’. I asked if maybe he could just give me a look or a special wave the next time he noticed me rushing and then in that moment I would know to pause, take a deep breath and just relax a little. He was eager to help and he was smiling again.

After that I was able to ask him if he would like me to offer him the same help. Immediately he said, ‘Yes – with sharing please Mum’.

I relayed this request back to him, active listening style, and asked if he wanted me to give him the same look we had agreed upon for my rushing? (We had a few silly options first and then came up with a respectable one we could use). He nodded enthusiastically and I could tell it felt almost like a little exercise or game we would play to help each other out. The really heavy hearted energy had left the room and it felt much lighter now.

After that, and right as he was slipping into brain waves for sleep I told him a little story about a boy who learned to share and became the most loved boy in the neighbourhood, and how all the kids came to his house to play with him and share his toys. With all the bells and whistles it was a magical story as I watched his little eyes close and his smile soften. What a happy ending I thought.

This storytelling was a spontaneous choice, however afterwards I reflected and realised I had in fact set up the perfect environment for some sub-conscious level changes in Max. Being so interested and aware myself in the power of our subconscious mind I felt proud that telling a beautiful little story like this and setting up accountability actions for us to help each other grow might have stimulated new, positive beliefs in him. This was exciting and I felt very warm and satisfied.

So, for me P.E.T has provided the most life changing skills I have learned thus far in my life, however I also follow my intuition as a mother and try very hard to keep the lessons fun and inclusive so Max feels connected and most importantly never, ever alone or misunderstood.

Written by Jacqui Bowden

First time blog writer and newly trained P.E.T. Instructor.

Jacqui Bowden

Jacqui Bowden

Gold Coast, QLD

My passion is children. Their uniqueness and total undivided trust in us just inspires me everyday. I am excited to guide you towards becoming a more conscious individual and parent so you can model this attitude of wellbeing and joy to them ensuring they become the greatest versions of themselves in the world. I have two boys aged 6 years old and a 10 month old. I love to check in with myself and model this self-awareness to them so they grow up with this tool in their toolkit. They inspire me to be the best person and mother I can each day. I teach Parent Effectiveness Training (P.E.T), a style of Influential and Effective Communication for parents as well as the Be Your Best (B.Y.B) program which suits individuals looking for more personal development as well as power in their interactions and relationships. It is my strong belief that communication is a very overlooked pillar in wellbeing. If we aren't honouring our own needs and being attentive and respectful to others needs, then we form relationships that don't support our greatest life and speak to our own self-worth.

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About ETIA

The Effectiveness Training Institute of Australia (ETIA) Ltd is a not-for-profit, community based organisation that is dedicated to making courses in communication and conflict resolution skills available and accessible to all people in Australia.

ETIA’s mission is to provide individuals with effective communication and conflict resolution skills to build connected, harmonious relationships.

Our inspiration and programs come from the late Dr Thomas Gordon who is the author and founder of Parent Effectiveness Training (P.E.T.) program and Gordon Training International (GTI).

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