Active Listening – The Emotional Bank Account

Hello Active Listening fans!

I hope you had the chance to read up on my previous blogs. If not, they are here:




Today, I would like to introduce you to a type of bank account which you constantly make regular deposits and withdrawals from, but are not always aware of this consciously. It behaves exactly like your current account at your bank – you can earn a decent rate of interest if you have a good deposit, or be heavily penalised for going overdrawn.

This is called your child’s Emotional Bank Account (EBA). It represents the strength of our connection with your children. The EBA grows with more deposits over time; conversely it shrinks with withdrawals as well. It is obvious that you need to make more deposits than withdrawals to this bank account to maintain a healthy emotional connection with your child. The ‘current balance’ in the EBA determines how well you and your child communicate and resolve issues.

Unfortunately, we live in a society where we make more withdrawals than deposits into your child’s  EBA. Over time, this alienates our children from us as the trust they have in us break down. Understanding the difference between the deposits and withdrawals will help parents to build a large reserve of deposits in their children’s EBA

Here are a few examples which shows how parents unknowingly make huge withdrawals from the EBA:

  • Interrupting your children when they are speaking to you
  • Screaming at your children for something they have done (or not done)
  • Checking your phone/tablet/email when your child is speaking to you
  • Criticizing your children in public
  • Nagging your child

Repeating the above over and over will result in a hugely overdrawn EBA. However, there are a few effective methods to top up your EBA funds:

  • Active listening (more details on the links shown above)
  • Take notice of what they are doing and spend time helping them
  • Play a game with them
  • Greet them as they come home
  • Keep your promises to them
  • Never criticise your child in public.
  • Constructive criticisms should be given when you are alone with your child. Be compassionate and help them to solve their problems.
  • Apologise when you make a withdrawal from the EBA

There are different levels of deposits. Big deposits can be special dates or trips, ice cream splurges, or birthday parties. But small, recurrent, daily deposits is where you build a sustainable emotional connection: A smile, a pat on the back, a loving look when they turn around to check if you are watching.

We can’t stop making withdrawals, just like we can’t stop paying our bills. So what does this mean? Just like with any other bank account, we just simply need to put moredeposits in than withdrawals. A lot more.

Any natural way that you connect with your child makes a deposit into the EBA. As the deposits increase, the challenges your family may have had in the past will now become opportunities to build trust. Communication will improve in homes when children feel that their opinion is valued. The home is a place where children learn relationship skills that will help them through adulthood.

Just like pocket change can grow into a hefty sum when saved in a piggy bank, a constant flow of little but significant signs of love can generate abundant emotional wealth in your child.

So the next time you reach out for your debit card and look for the nearest ATM….please also reach out to your child to make a deposit into you’re his / her EBA!

When the EBA balance is positive: you will have a GOLD MINE of cooperation, connection, and emotional bond with your children.

(By the way, this concept works wonderfully well with your husband / wife / siblings… and believe it or not, even with your in-laws J)

Thanks for reading!

No Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Skip to toolbar