I love summertime. I love that my schedule is more relaxed. I love that I don’t have to wear socks. I love being able to sit on my deck in the early morning and enjoy my coffee.
This morning as I sat on my deck, I listened. I listened to the birds singing. I listened to the traffic noise in the distance. I listened to my own thoughts. It’s amazing what we hear when we truly listen.
A few days ago, I was feeling frustrated because my kids weren’t listening to me. They were busy texting and chatting and didn’t hear what I had to say. Does this ever happen to you?
Over the years, I have learned that things that trigger a reaction in me are a reflection of what I am doing. I have learned that when something annoys me, I need to look in the mirror. Sometimes I fight it, but I know it’s something I need to do.
So this time, as I reflected on not listening, I asked myself where I wasn’t listening. Not easy to answer, or at least not easy to hear my answer. I realized that I don’t always listen, really listen, to my kids. What about you? How well do you listen to your child? When was the last time you truly listened to your child?
Think about how it feels when you are not listened to. How often do we leave our kids feeling like they haven’t been heard? The best way to improve communication with your child, is to listen. When you listen to your child, you learn what’s going on in their life and what they are thinking about. It builds a strong bond between you and your child. It shows them that you respect who they are. Kids are much brighter than we give them credit for. You can learn a lot by listening to your child. The other bonus of listening to your child, is that it teaches them how to listen to you.
To improve your listening skills, you need to stop what you’re doing and focus on your child. Listen carefully. This means that you are not busy thinking about what you need to do next or how you are going to respond. You listen to their words, watch their body language and pay attention to your intuition. Listening means you are not talking. Pretend your lips are zippered shut. This can be difficult to do, but is very worth the effort. Don’t be afraid of silence. If your child stops talking, it does not mean you jump in with comments or suggestions. Stay quiet. Give your child a chance to add to what they want to tell you. When given the opportunity, it is amazing what kids are willing to share.
As your child is sharing, you need to listen and not react to what they are saying. Don’t let your emotions get in the way of listening. You need to be able to really hear your child’s perspective. Remember, they don’t have the same life experience as you do, so their view may be very different from yours. Try not to judge.
At times it may be difficult to hear what your child has to say. Maybe they need to tell you how they feel about something you do that upsets them. As difficult as it may be, please listen. As parents, we do make mistakes and sometimes our kids will point them out to us. Don’t be too quick to defend yourself. Very often, our kids make a good point. Try to listen and understand their point of view.
When your child learns that you will just listen, they will feel a stronger bond with you. They will be more open to sharing their thoughts, their fears, and their ideas with you. They will be more likely to come to you with questions. This is crucial if you want them to be coming to you for help or advice rather than their peers. Their peers may not have the best advice for your child. It is important that they know they can come to you with any concern.
Set aside regular time to listen to your child. Put it in your calendar. Make sure you can give your full attention. Sometimes your child will need you to listen between these regular times. If at all possible, take the time to listen. This may mean that they are late for school or an appointment. If you absolutely can’t take the time to listen, set up a time with them in the near future. Don’t just brush them off.
It is imperative that we keep the line of communication open with our kids. This can help prevent many problems for our kids, including depression. If your child knows that they can come to you with anything and you will listen to them (not lecture), it will go along way in keeping your kids happy, healthy and confident.
So….make a date with your child this week to listen to them. Put it in your calendar in PEN! If you want to let me know how it feels to really listen to your child, please send me an email. I’d love to hear your success stories or your struggles.
If you need support in getting your child to open up to you, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a free exploratory session.