Often we become so busy with life that we tend to ignore what our children are saying. Small children can be especially annoying when you are talking on the phone, doing some work or trying to read. They can start chattering away and interrupt your thoughts. Older children or teens might make a comment that seems unimportant or ridiculous and we dismiss them with a quick unfeeling reply.
When children are speaking, it is important that we acknowledge their feelings and try to understand what message they are conveying. If we don’t tune in to their feelings and let them know we are listening, we will lose their trust and they won’t share their problems with us. Children want to communicate with their parents and if they are unable to connect, they will find someone else to talk to. Parents need to listen to their words and try to understand their feelings without being judgmental. Parents may not always agree with what their children are saying or even totally understand, but they have to be willing to listen anyway. This will promote good communication between parent and child and pave the way for a closer relationship.
If your child is trying to communicate with you:
- STOP AND LISTEN!
- Pay attention to what they are saying.
- Read their body language.
- What emotions are they showing? Are they happy or upset, excited or worried, nervous or afraid?
- Look directly into their eyes and encourage them to talk.
- Ask questions and make sure you understand how they feel and try to determine what they need.
- Be supportive, try not to argue or force your opinion and don’t discount their feelings.
Remember back when you were a young child or teenager. Your ideas about life were totally different than they are now. You won’t always see eye to eye with your child but they need your love and support. If they think that you are listening to them with an open mind, they will feel that their thoughts and feelings are important. This will help them build good esteem and become a confident, responsible adult.
Do you listen to your children?