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Are you listening to me?
Talking to our children is something we do and often take for granted during our day-to-day communications. A lot of our interactions, whether it’s spending quality time, disciplining, or chatting about feelings with our children; all boils down to listening. When we listen, we can repeat what they say, name what they’re doing, and identify and acknowledge their feelings. When our children can see that we are listening to them, they feel accepted and understood. It’s no different to when one adult is listening to the other. If you are talking to a person about something that is meaningful and important, we can generally pick up from their body language, eye contact, facial expressions and tone if they are tuned in and listening to us; at times it doesn’t take the other person to say anything at all!
Often when we catch ourselves distracted - whether we’re under pressure, in the middle of doing something, or the well-renowned scenario of being on the phone – these are often the times our children seek us out most. From where we stand in these situations, we see and hear our children act out to get our attention. Before we know it – the battle commences! It turns from our children possibly wanting to share something with us to the parent becoming impatient. What we see and experience is our child’s behaviour unravelling and, as a result, an unprovoked battle between parent and child pursues.
On the other hand, I meet so many families where the adults are tearing their hair out because it takes five plus times for their child to listen when being asked to so something – it’s part of our day-to-day lives; however, to minimise these frustrations, try to bring in the following tips for the next time.
- Let your child know that you are present for them by sitting next to them, or simply getting down to their level.
- Listen to what they want to tell you, repeat what they say – it shows you are actively listening to their point. You’ll be surprised how giving them just those five minutes can impact on behaviour, and send them off on their merry way.
- If your childs’ listening or lack thereof is becoming a task in itself, remind them about the importance of what other people are asking and the impact it can have. Often, this chat is more productive when you are spending time together and all is calm.
- It’s important in these scenarios to practice what we preach – the more we show and demonstrate the value of listening, the more we will instil this skill in our children.