In last week’s post, we looked at how we talk to our kids about important matters. This week’s focus is on how to listen to our kids.
How do wise parents and educators respond when kids try to argue and manipulate? The most effective will repeat an empathetic one-liner such as, “I love/respect you too much to argue,” or “I know,” or “What did I say?” They will also resist the urge to think too deeply about what the child is saying.
Do we do this when kids are hurting? Do we employ this strategy when they’re respectfully expressing their opinions? No! We listen.
When I ask people to describe the parents and teachers who they respected the most as kids, they almost always mention something like, “They were always there to listen.”
Listening means love. It means that we sincerely care about other’s opinions and emotions.
Here’s the problem—many of us have a hard time listening when someone around us is emotional or is disagreeing with us. That’s why it’s helpful to have a few sincere statements or questions in our back pockets:
- Tell me more.
- Help me understand.
- What would you like to see here?
- How long have you felt this way?
The next time one of your kids expresses their opinion—or their hurt—be sure to lend a sincere and empathetic ear, and show loving interest by using the points above. Remember: The more you listen to them, the more likely they’ll listen to you. If the tone turns disrespectful or manipulative, you can always switch gears and repeat, “I love/respect you too much to argue” or “I’ll listen when your voice sounds calm like mine.”
Thanks for reading!