By Carol Dores
“If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times!”
How many of us have said these words to our children? Do they listen any better when we repeat ourselves over and over again? I know mine didn’t.
What can we do to be listened to more?
We can start by asking them, rather than telling them what to do. When we involve children, they are more likely to be part of things and work cooperatively. “What are your plans for finishing your homework?” “What would you like for a snack, an apple or a piece of cheese?” “What do you think can be done to solve this problem?” These are all examples of ways we can ask our children, and involve them in the thinking and decision making process.
Next, we can take a look at our own listening behavior. Do you really listen when your children or others are talking to you? What does good listening look like and sound like? Looking in to the speaker’s eyes is a good place to start. Put away anything you are doing – looking at your phone, writing a shopping list, or thinking about what’s on the calendar tomorrow – clear your mind. Really focus on what the other person is saying. Repeat back to them what you heard, and ask questions about what they have said.
You can also take time for teaching your children how to listen. Practice together. Show them the skills of a good listener. Practice some more.
If we truly listen to our children when they are young, they will be more likely to talk to us as they get older. We want to be there for our children, to help them problem solve. We can only do that if they are willing to talk to us. By being good listeners, we are building the connection and relationship that can last a lifetime with our children.