I just read an interesting post from Tessa and a parenting course she was following about how to listen to our children. It’s not always possible to give full attention when our child (or our children!) talk to us. The advise Tessa has been given was to stop what you’re doing (yes, also blogging!) “turn and look at them and listen properly”. And if we really can’t stop our task, we still can tell them “I’m busy but in 10 minutes I will stop and listen” and really remember to do so. This works pretty well if your children can wait that long (or even longer) and do remember what they wanted to tell you… If not, my advice is to make them write down what they wanted to say or make a picture. Or ask them to give you a hint, so that you can help them reminding what they wanted to say.
The second thing she learnt was “about reflecting back and repeating back to your child what he has said to you”. This is very important as it ensures your child that you are really hearing what he says and that you emphasize.
Tessa’s post did remind me of what one of my daughters said to me the other day. She was busy playing when I tried to tell her something and she said to me : “Not now, mom, I’m busy. Talk to me later”.
She was applying the same method to me! So, I’m wondering: shouldn’t we expect the same behaviour from our children too? If we want to tell them something, shouldn’t they stop doing what they’re doing, turn and look at us and listen properly, maybe even reflect back and repeat to us what we were saying? This would ensure us parents that they are really hearing what we said, right? I must confess that I ask my children to do so with really important things, but maybe I should do it more often.
I would also add another tip: with children who really have a hard time to listen or generally focus, if you bend down or over to them and touch their shoulders or look them straight in the eyes, they listen much better than if you talk to them from a distance.
By the way, this works also with collegues, friends, partners etc. (you might skip the bending down part…)
How to Talk So Kids will Listen & Listen So Kids will Talk, Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish. New York: Scribner Classics, 2012.
- what-is-an-audiologist-and-does-my-child-need-one (everydayfamily.com)
- Be mindful: Your Children Are Watching, Listening…and Learning (lmerlobooth.typepad.com)
- What I Wish I Had Listened To When I Was Younger! (simplysenia.com)
- Kids Won’t Listen? 8 Ways to Get Them To Hear You (psychcentral.com)