It’s a question I get asked daily.
Parents say to me “My kids don’t listen to me.” And what they mean is that their children don’t do what they tell them to do. Their kids don’t obey them, they don’t follow directions, and they don’t come when they are called. It is a really difficult part of being a parent – being ignored and not listened to is a very frustrating feeling.
And almost every day a kid says to me “My parents don’t listen to me.” And what they mean is that their parents don’t listen to them. Kids feel that they are interrupted, not allowed to express themselves, and not believed. It is a really difficult part of being a kid – being ignored and not listened to is a very frustrating feeling.
I met with a wonderful little girl this week. She is a very bright, very articulate 5th grader. She admitted to me that she does not always follow her mom’s directions. When I asked her why she chose not to obey her mom, she said “She says so many things to me, that I don’t know what I really need to listen to. Her words go in my ears, but they don’t go in my brain.”
Isn’t that great? Think about that. We need to hear, no, we need to listen to, this little girl’s wise advice.
If we want our kids to listen to us, we need to talk less. We need to make it clear when something we are saying is important. We need to get physically closer to our kids so we know they can hear our voice. We need to ask them if they heard what we just said. We need to have them repeat what we just said. And then we need to follow through with making sure they did what we told them to.
If we want our kids to listen to us, we need to listen more. We need to give our kids our full attention. We need to feel that what they are saying is important. We need to be patient and listen to their entire story. We need to care about what they are saying.
We can teach our children how to listen by listening to them the same way we want them to listen to us. Imagine how great it will be when you and your child both feel heard and understood.
Imagine how great it will be when your words go past the ears and all the way into your child’s brain. Awesome.