Children and Teens need our help as Adults to see that they have great potential and . We, as adults are all too quick to jump into the typical role: ‘Don’t be cheeky’, ‘clean your room’, ‘you should be studying’ ‘don’t hit your brother/sister’ do this/ don’t to that… Do you ever get sick of listening your own voice shout instructions or bark orders at your children? It can feel quite, well, unrewarding, to be the sergeant major all the time.
I’ve recently discovered the joy of listening, really listening to my children and my family and friends. It is remarkable how much trust I am rewarded with, when I take the time to sit down and look at them and listen to their words without reacting, judging or jumping in. A friend of mine who has teenage children told me that she has been amazed how much her 15 year old son has opened up to her since she started truly listening to him every day. She decided not to do any housework when he arrives home and they sit down together and chat over a bite to eat and cup of tea. To her surprise and delight, he now shares his day and what is happening in his life with her.
If we are constantly telling children what they can, can’t / should and shouldn’t do 2 things could happen – Firstly, they do what you don’t want them to do in order to get all of your attention, even if it is just negative attention. Or secondly, (just as bad) the child ends up trying to please us and make us proud, within the confines of what they think we want them to do or be.
They could end up living their lives based on, ‘what would my Parents say or do?’ which may not lead them to happiness, just guilt or fear of disappointing. What two worse things are there in this world than guilt and fear. They stop us from being ourselves, happy and relaxed. Instead we should be teaching our children to ask ‘what am I good at?’ and ‘what makes me happy?’ ‘What feels like the right thing to do?’
I am a believer in going with my gut feeling and listening to my heart. I think this should be taught to all children, when have you ever known your gut feelings to be wrong. If children could be taught to stop and ask what feels like the right thing to do in a given situation, wouldn’t that be great. It also helps them to grow up and make decisions for themselves. There will no doubt be times that we need to tell our children to do something or put the foot down, but if you are listening regularly and have a better relationship with your child as a result, then you can do this through explaining and making an agreement.
Overall the skill of listening needs to be practised more by all of us in today’s busy fast paced world, especially parents. A very common comment from the Parents of teenagers is ‘he or she won’t tell me anything’. The way to start changing this is to: ask and don’t judge, ask and don’t jump in, ask and be ready to really listen.