A series of reads and conversations with more parents brought about this post. A second in a long series, I am sure about “Listening”. The earlier one was about trying to awaken you to how it will help build a connect with your child when you are really listening to what he says.
As children grow older and build their vocabulary, they also form opinions. Thankfully their world is small and their experience limited. Their exposure allows them to opine on things around them, their clothes, food, toys, books and similar stuff. But have you noticed that we as parents do not even have time for the little things that seem to matter a lot to them? When children are expressing themselves, why is it important to listen? Children are feelers. There is always a hidden feeling if not explicitly out there, behind what they have to say. For example, if they are saying “ I want chips right now” they are really saying “I am feeling like having chips right now”. What we can do as parents are to address the feeling to tone it down. Ask yourself, as adults, when you express a feeling, are you seeking acknowledgment from your surroundings or acceptance? More often than not, you will come to a conclusion that you need to be heard. The child’s need is also almost always that basic. When you acknowledge the child’s feelings, he feels he was heard. You can have a conversation beyond that to help him come out of it and move on. The debate of whether “the child should listen when I say no” vs working on a process to enable to acknowledge his own feelings is always going to exist. All said above is not to say that you will have the time always to have this detailed a conversation with your child. There will be moments when you will over-ride and comment. But you could re-visit the conversation later to address the buried emotions.
And so we all avoid situations that need confrontations that will take our time up and leave us with probably a child that isn’t satisfied or happy and that will spoil our day in turn! But in fact what we should be doing is having these conversations more often so that our children have formed a deeper connect with us. This eases them into a confidence over you that when they will come and speak to you, you will actually listen.
So the next time you are entering into a conflict situation with your child, just ask – what is he feeling right now? Can I help him change how he is feeling to a more positive feeling without giving away too much or without giving into his demands? And all this will only happen if you are really listening.
Thank you, Adele and Elaine, I am a parent coach and your book (http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/769016.How_To_Talk_So_Kids_Will_Listen_Listen_So_Kids_Will_Talk) chapter 1, takes this thought further. It is wonderful to see how one can be simple and yet connect with our children in a very thoughtful way.