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Do You Listen to Your Children? How and Why You Should
Avoid Disaster by Listening
Sometimes even the simplest ideas need to be spoken out loud and that is what I am doing here. It 'goes without saying' that we should listen to our children. The reason it needs to be said is because it is the things that go without saying that are often neglected and can lead to disaster.
Don't Get Distracted
How difficult can it be to listen to your child? You tell me. Busy parents begin by paying attention but then get caught up by the news, a football score, even the doorbell, and get hooked. Just as your child gets involved in telling you something important you might need to dash off to the laundry room without hearing him out to the end. Next it could be, “Just a minute sweetheart,” because the cookies are screaming “Fire!” and all your good intentions go up in smoke as you leave your child mid-sentence, caught in the intricacies of explaining what was on his mind.
Are you Giving your Child your Full Attention?
Does that remind you of someone? Not guilty? Then answer me this. How often is your phone glued to your ear while you are supervising your child’s lunch, homework, or bath? How often do you talk to a friend while stacking blocks with your child?.... I thought as much.
Show Some Respect
There can be no excuse. To pay our children less than 100 percent attention while interacting with them is extremely hurtful. Put yourself in their position and consider how you would feel if they walked away while you were talking to them; children are great imitators and soon you will find your position reversed as they do just that. I would never treat anyone else, whether in a work, leisure or family environment with such disrespect; yet I do it to my kids!
Show Children that They are Important
When we treat our children like this we are lowering their self-esteem. Think about it. Anything and everything from dirty socks, burnt cookies and the telephone can jump the queue and get in line ahead of our kids for our attention.
Consequences of Not Listening to Your Child
If the child is only two the result will probably be the famous temper tantrums of frustration that so appall us. Later that same child will become more and more distanced from parents and other adults, preferring to keep thoughts and ideas private. Finally there could be another form of tantrum as the usual teenage rebellion takes on extreme forms of antisocial behaviour. This is something we are witnessing when we see the senseless violence that takes place more and more frequently in today’s world. Suddenly a child explodes and the resulting aggression is devastating.
Resolve to listen to your child; it is a far more valuable gift than designer trainers, or the latest games console. Invest in your future and his by giving him your ear.
How to Listen
- Get on the same level as your child and show that you are listening by maintaining eye contact.
- Use receptive body language: turned towards him, nodding your head in understanding.
- Make sounds to reassure him that you are paying attention: throw in words like, ‘really?’ ‘Mmm,’ ‘I see.’
- Try to sit or stand apart from other family members; especially with an older child who may not like everyone knowing his secrets. Remember to respect his privacy.
- Listen to details as though you are taking down points; that way you will comprehend the information clearly.
At this point you might be wondering why it is so important to listen to your children. Well primarily because they live in your house and are the most important factor in your life. Without stating the obvious here are a few ideas that I have realised over the years as a mum, a grandmother and a teacher.If you listen carefully to your child you show that you are treating him seriously and with respect. You set an example of how he should listen to you and other people. In this way you will build a strong relationship with your child that will last through all the difficult stages of his development and even if you cannot solve his problems for him, even if he does not choose to heed your advice—your child is not you—you will at least be aware of what he is going through in his everyday life and he will feel the relief of knowing you understand, care and are there to give support.
Interrogation Does Not Work!
You need to spend a lot of time with your children if you are going to know what is happening in their lives and how it is affecting them. Simply asking your child questions is not the answer; they do not need a third degree inquisition situation. In fact you are less likely to get a clear picture of how they feel by asking direct questions that may intimidate them and give them the impression that they are taking some sort of test.
Spend Time with Your Children
If you want your child to disclose how he or she feels about something you must spend time nurturing close contact and trust. Shop with your daughter and enjoy ice-cream or smoothies as a casual treat. Go to a football or baseball game and get to know which players your son likes or dislikes and why. Discuss a film or read the same books they are reading so that you can talk about the plot and the characters. That way you will learn their opinions through reference to other people; you will discover whether or not they have experienced similar situations and how they would deal with them if they did.
You're not Looking for a Stand off!
4 Hot Tips on How to Respond to Your Child's Opinion!
Don't overreact:if you appear angry or defensive your child will clam up and feel afraid to discuss the real issue.
Don't put your child down: give your own opinion without forcing your child to feel he or she has to hold the same opinion.
Don't argue right or wrong: give subtle alternatives,show that not everything is black or white, right or wrong, examine shades of grey within an argument.
Don't push your own feelings on your child: focus on his or her emotions and understand why your child holds that opinion.
Listening May Change Your Mind
Listening to your kids often gives you a different perspective, they come up with ideas which have not occurred to us, stuck in our life patterns as we are. You may be surprised at how logical and how mature their point of view is
Children are a wonderful gift. They have an extraordinary capacity to see into the heart of things and to expose sham and humbug for what they are. - Bishop Desmond Tutu