How to talk to your sleep deprived, frustrated partner so they may listen, and listen to them when they talk

Written by Barry Williams

I have started reading some parenting help books to become a better parent. I want to be the parent my child needs in the moment to de-escalate a situation, rather than the parent that makes it worse. The book I am reading is called "How to talk so kids will listen and listen so kids will talk". It is all about understanding your children's emotions and understanding why they are acting the way (that is causing you so much frustration). It asks the parent instead of shouting, or telling the child to stop to have a conversation that helps the child recognise their own emotions and help de-escalate the situation. The suggestions include:

To help with feelings

  1. Listen with full attention
  2. Acknoledge their feelings with words like "Oh... Mmm... I see... "
  3. Give their feelings a name
  4. Give their wishes in fantasy

Now while are boys are too young to implement this fully and have these conversations, I can pause when I am frustrated at their behaviour, try to understand the feelings underpinning their behaviour and acknowledge this. I can start to talk about this with my children they may start to understand before they can communicate, they may understand tone and other body queues, at the very least this will help me to understand better speaking this out loud.

However this was not the purpose of this post. As I am reading through these suggestions, I am finding that some could also apply to my partner when we are both tired and frustrated after a long day parenting or working while sleep deprived. Now obviously not everything is going to apply and the way you speak to an adult is going to be different to that of a child lest you want to make the situation much worse. I do find personally that my behaviour can be no different to that of a child. When I am tired and frustrated I my critical faculties switch off and I will argue tooth and nail over the most silly things. The difference of course is when the situation de-escalates we can and do come together and understand what was said in anger, sleep deprivation and frustration was just that. However if I can try to pause when agitated try to understand my emotional state and that of my partner's I may be able to stop the situation escalating before it begins.

Now I just have to try and pause, for some reason I find it so much easier to do this with the children than with my wife.