I heard this scenario in a cafe the other day. Mum and child sitting at the table next to me and the little one says;
“Mum?” wanting to talk to mum.
No response. Mum’s staring at her tablet.
“Mu – um!” Much louder this time. Other people in the cafe now glancing towards the child but mum is completely oblivious.
“MUM!” he shouts and gets her attention but not in the form he wanted as a listening ear, he gets chastised instead. Conversation killed dead before he’s remembered what he wanted to say!
Does this sound familiar? I’ve done it too, at times. Even with my young adult home again over the summer I sometimes missed what she was saying. Actually, there were quite a lot of time she missed (or ignored!) what I was saying but generally we show each other the respect and consideration of listening.
Most of us underestimate the value of listening. The power it gives, especially to a child.
As a parent you can solve problems just by listening, redirect mounting crises, prevent your child from becoming incredibly demanding (if they know they’re going to be listened to they have no need to demand), you can develop their language, vocabulary and speaking skills and best of all you can show the most important thing of all: you CARE!
Listening, whether it’s to our children, our partners, our mothers, our friends; giving up our time and truly engaging with listening, is one of the most powerful ways of demonstrating care and respect and educating our children about living together.
There are times when we’ll need to say ‘just a sec….’ but we must see we take time to listen when that second’s up. Other times we might need to say; ‘I want to hear what you’ve got to say, but must finish this first then we’ll have a chat’. Sometimes we need to stop right there and then and make sure we listen and converse. Sometimes it’s just a single moment of eye contact and a suggestion from you in response that is fulfilling enough – it works like a kind of magic. Youngster goes off happy.
Having time in a family for listening and chatting together is part of family care – and of education. The simple courtesy of listening can weave magic into relationships.
After all, we want our children to be caring people and to listen to us, we want our partners to listen, we want the respect of being heard ourselves. So we need to practise showing that consideration to others, particularly our children. It is not the case that just because they’re small we assume they have nothing valid to say and they can be ignored! We have to listen anyway.
Let’s show we care enough for that.
And I’m listening if anyone would like to leave me a comment? :)