Some might think of PTA luncheons when they hear “parent talk”, but that’s not the case at R3 Discovery. And I should know; I enjoy attending parenting talks at various schools, trying to blend in with the other parents as if my children were old enough to attend the school in the first place. I always learn something from attending them, and it’s nice to sit down and share ideas with other parents, even if we are in a classroom environment.
But this talk was different. Upon entering, we were firstly enamoured by the space. R3 Discovery is at Funwork (coworking space in CBD), a literally fun place that not only successfully awoke my groggy and jetlagged two-year-old, but maintained his interest for the entire duration of the talk (and this, without any books from R3!)
Next, we discovered there was a coffee bar, which, if it wasn’t for the fact that I had already downed a few cups of coffee before arriving, would’ve been a crucial detail.
Finally, what set apart the talk from all the other “school” parent talks were the people. I was welcomed with open arms, receiving warm embraces from everyone in the small group, including co-founders Perlita Pengson and Miyee Woon. Although we were in a conference room, at no point did it feel like a meeting–not even when Pengson (speaker and host) started her powerpoint slideshow!
If anything, the talk is more like a forum, where parents are welcome to chime in with their own experiences, queries, and concerns. Pengson’s delivery style is very humorous, spiced with anecdotes from life with her three sons that will surely induce a chuckle even from the most surly and tired parent.
Although the topic of communication was meant to be applied to parent-child communication, she warmed up the room with work and husband-wife scenarios. The result was that at no point did any participant feel “judged” or afraid to ask questions, as can be the case in some parent meetups.
In discussing the topic, “Say what you mean, mean what you say”, Pengson challenged us to consider whether we are active or passive communicators. Passive communicators talk in circles, give hints, and assume others can read their minds. They get frustrated when they’re misunderstood, when they don’t receive the response they want, and when they’re perceived negatively for their failed communication. Active listeners, on the other hand, are clear in their communication, but can still fail on delivery style.
Communication: it’s not easy.
To help us avoid negative communication styles–you know, the ones that cause doors to slam and objects to break — Pengson introduces three different active communication styles: persuasive, assertive, and aggressive.
Pengson says it’s important to be consistent in whichever communication style you choose as a parent. The mistake many parents make is to begin as the “good cop”, playing nice with persuasive talk, but then quickly doing a 180 degree turn and morphing into “bad cop” with an aggressive stance. In the escalation, parents will leave out the best communication style for parents: the assertive style.
Why is the assertive communication pattern the best for parents? Let’s examine the agenda behind each style:
- persuasive: manipulative desire to change behavior = possible change (often bribed)
- aggressive: anger = confrontation
- assertive: understanding = solution
While an assertive communication style supports the purest motives and achieves the best long-term solution (persuasion tends to gain quick fixes that don’t last), Pengson reminds that sometimes your communication pattern will change, and needs to change, in order to successfully parent a willful child and set boundaries.
“If you become aggressive, just shut up!”
For little daily issues, a persuasive style is the most hassle free, but at no point does Pengson recommend the aggressive style: “If you become aggressive, just shut up!” The reason is that children mirror their parents’ communication modes, e.g., yelling will be met with more yelling. At the same time, it’s important to remember that not communicating your feelings and keeping them bottled up will turn you into an aggressive communicator.
So next time you feel a rage attack coming along, perhaps it’s time to take your green tea to a parenting talk, vent a little, and then learn tips and tricks from experienced parents on how to deal with the issues at home!
The Positive Parenting Talks series is every Thursday, with four sessions per month. The “Say what you mean, mean what you say” talk was the third in September’s series. October will have a new series of talks, so keep an eye out for them in our weekly events blog!
RMB 50. 10-11am. R3 Discovery 北京德家沃利探索学习中心. B1-R080, Zhongjunshijiecheng D, 9 Jinhui Road, Chaoyang District. 北京朝阳区 金汇路9 中骏世界城商业区 D 座B1层R080室. (firstname.lastname@example.org, WeChat：R3Discovery)