"I' m so sorry, honey. Yes, yes I'm listening to you."
Here I’m trying hard to listen to my child’s dragon story in the middle of my work. I have no interest in listening to this story for the tenth time.
I’m trying hard to be attentive and prove to myself that I’m a good mother who listens to their children, not the self-absorbed mother who thinks that it is such a waste of time to listen the crappy story on a repeat.
It probably makes me look like a lousy mom. Hey, don't judge me!
I'm not just a mother; I'm a human being as well: I have chores to complete, deadlines to meet, even when none of these exist.
I still need some time off, at that time - I want nothing more than to shut myself out of my surroundings and just sit still. I need some time to unwind, some time to retain my sanity.
Honestly speaking, I only want to ensure that my child is fed, clean, clothed, read and is doing the right things.
It's just that all this advice suggests we should pay attention to young children while they are still puking on you and pooping in diapers.
In other words, when they come with their imaginary friends and plays, you should sit down with them and listen to what they have to say.
However, in such moments, I drift to peep into my Instagram to see what’s up there. Please don’t judge me; it feels better to watch other people crap than yours.
Why I can’t I enjoy this moment of bonding together and focus on what they have to say?
The thing is, what they want to talk about is objectively boring, repeated and endless.
But, a sane voice tells that in spite of what you feel, you still need to listen what your child has to say to stay updated, what is going on in your child’s life.
If you brush off of what they say when they are young, they may not come to you to talk about their difficulties, challenging topics or hopes as they get older and have to make important life choices.
Later you might be haunted by these questions:
Who are their friends? Who are they talking to? Is there any stranger in their contact? How are they doing emotionally? Are they hiding anything? Is something bothering them? Is there a stranger danger?
Moreover, I don’t want to hear my child saying, “Mom, you didn’t listen then, now I won’t listen to you; you can’t stop me talking to this person, he/she listens to me”
Oh! My god, I don’t want my child to choose a strange weirdo over me. This sounds scary. This shouldn’t happen.
How to listen when you don’t like what they’re saying:
CDC suggested the best way to talk to your child is to stop what you are doing, turn to them, make eye contact, and summarize what they told you. Reflect or repeat back what they say and what they may be feeling to make sure you understand.
Actively listen - Pay full attention to your child when they talk to you:
Let your child know that you are interested in what they have to say; this opens up the channel for future talks, when they get into their sneaking and hiding phase.
Tune in all the way:
I have to make sure that my children know that I will listen to what they have to say. I listen with my eyes, ears, and brain, ensuring I don't miss any non-verbal cues. That's how I get a sneak peek into their thoughts and feelings, which they often hide or don't know how to show or express. Sometimes it is difficult to put into words what you feel.
Quiet your mind:
It makes me feel like I need a Zen meditation class sometimes, just to be able to focus on the words coming out of my children's mouths.
It’s pretty hard to focus on when you have multiple things going on in your mind, and you have to stay present and listen to what they are saying.
Mostly, I desperately want it to get over. It requires persistent practice to be completely present and listen to the stories they tell.
Lisa Damour, Ph.D., author of Under Pressure, says, ”think of listening as muscle you build up. And sometimes the workouts are not that fun.”
Well, any type of workout is not fun for me. And this definitely gives me cramps.
I still try:
“Mamma, I won’t talk to Sheena. She pushed my Teddy. My teddy got hurt.”
I stopped everything I’m doing in the middle.
"Let me close the stove, honey. Now I’m ready to hear, tell me what happened?
Oh!! You must be feeling bad, that she pushed your Teddy. Tomorrow tell her that you didn’t like what she did and she shouldn’t be doing this again.”
Avoid giving instant solution:
The other challenge I face is to jump to offer the solution. I often offer their problem a quick solution, which irritates them.
I learned 'Good listeners ask good Questions' that why instead of offering instant solutions, better ask them good questions, which help them come up with solution on their own.
However, in the attempt to ask questions, I sadly end up camouflaging my advice, convincing, or correcting them.
“Wouldn’t you want to impress your teacher by studying a bit longer and solving math problems?”
Such questions are a failed attempt. Now I’m practicing to ask better questions, like:
Do you want my help, or do you just want to vent?
Do you want to understand what she was trying to say?
Reflection of Emotions:
The next important thing I learned is to help children understand and express their feelings and big emotions. How they feel, what they feel.
Help them name their feelings:
Naming those big feelings actually helps them understand what they are going through and how to express them when they need to and the ways to deal with their emotions.
The best you can do for your child if their feelings are hurt is to acknowledge the sadness and hurt and explain that sometimes being upfront and expressing is helpful. Additionally, let them understand what others may be experiencing or feeling.
By doing so, you show them that you care about their feelings, understand their needs, and accept them as they are. Furthermore, they learn to pay attention to other feelings as well.
"You are feeling bad because your friend sat with the new girl in the recess leaving you. Is that correct?
This make you feel sad."
"You are mad at your brother, because he left your toy in the playground."
"If you don't talk to your friend, she might feel sad."
Say back what you hear:
If you want better communication, you should repeat what you heard and check whether what you heard is what they meant or if it is just your own assumption.
"What I understood is that your best friend has refused to play with you and that’s why you feel that she doesn’t want to be friends with you anymore. Am I right?
To be a better listener, I am taking these steps to make my children comfortable enough to reach out to me whenever they need me.It's not easy, but I'm making progress each day; I hope you'll do the same;
Leave a comment to let us know which of these tips you are going to implement right away. If you enjoyed what you read please share.
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