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Lisa Steffler

 

Listening To Children

Posted On:20-Feb-2021/8:17 pm

The older we become the more our memories fade. Specifically, the memories of being children and teenagers, of going through high school and elementary school. The older we are, the fuzzier those memories become, making it harder to relate or even connect to children nowadays. However, especially for those who have kids, it’s so important to empathize and listen when a child is speaking to you. We might feel the need to relate, and then we become frustrated when we remember how different their problems are to your own. However, listening to what kids are saying and empathizing with them does not require you to fully understand their situation, you just need to be attentive.

I have a niece who is coming up to the age of six. She’s so funny and adorable, but I sometimes notice how little other adults, myself included, simply ignore what she’s saying. For example, once her mother (my sister) gave her a plate of chicken nuggets for dinner. My niece kept calling for her mother’s attention, but my sister was busy and just kept replying, “yes, darling, I’m listening”. But she wasn’t. When I finally asked my niece what she needed, she told me that her nuggets were frozen. My sister had been so preoccupied with dinner she accidentally undercooked her daughter’s food – a simple mistake. The problem was that she didn’t listen when her daughter tried to inform her. My niece had something important and relevant to say, but everybody assumed she didn’t.

Of course, kids can babble, obsess, or be extremely repetitive. I’m not saying you must be attentive to every single thing your child says. The difference is being aware of what your child is trying to tell you. Listening and being attentive aren’t always synonymous. There is a major difference between hearing what another has said and engaging, paying attention, and listening to what they have to say. Listening attentively can be difficult, especially with a child/someone younger than you. They might have ideas or concepts that you find conflicting, or they could teach you something you didn’t know before. I believe a lot of parents and adults underestimate how smart children can be.

I remember being a child, coming home from science class to tell my parents everything I had learned, only to be told I was wrong, or simply ignored. By doing this, you can thoroughly damage a child’s self-image. By being constantly ignored or shushed, they will start to believe they have nothing important to say.

The lesson I took away from being ignored as a child was not to ignore my own children. So many parents are completely consumed with the coronavirus right now – trying to hold a job; or trying to find a job; trying to homeschool their children; taking care or their kids and other people in the household; cooking; cleaning; keeping their sanity; etc. Parents are so concerned with so many things, sometimes they  don’t have time to listen to the “silly” things their kids want to talk about. But recently I started watching my kids, and I noticed that they are coping much better with the coronavirus than me and my husband. Even though sometimes there are glitches with homeschooling, they get over it quickly. Even though they miss their friends, they are more than happy to talk with them over Zoom and play all kinds of video games long distance. One day, my young daughter held my hand, sat me down and said, “mom we have to talk”. She went on to tell me that “she and her brother have been watching me and they noticed that I am killing myself trying to make life perfect for them”. She went on to tell me “it’s a pandemic, rest, tell us how we can help”. I couldn’t help but start to cry. They are so much more resilient than adults. They are so much wiser than their years.      

The amazing return you get from listening the children in your life: if they notice how you listen to them, they will be more willing to listen to you. How could you expect somebody to listen to you if you don’t show the same respect? Listening and being attentive are both two-way streets. By engaging with your kids and truly listening and acknowledging what they have to say, you won’t only get that same behavior back, but you might even learn something new.

Takeaways:

1 : Adults forget what it’s like being ignored as children.

2 : Our children have more wisdom than we think.

3 : Listening to your children teaches them respect.

Category:  Parenting / Subcategory:  Children are wiser than we think

Tags: Adults, Memories, Smart, Self-Image, Resilient, Coronavirus, Respect, Learn

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S. Jakes

21-Feb-2021

Lisa, I teach mostly grade school, so my job is to listen, and I completely agree with you. Sometimes, the things they say amaze me. I like to ask them questions to see how they think and sometimes I think some of my students are smarter than me. Giving children your time and listening attentively to what they say is about showing them respect.

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Nadine Wu

20-Feb-2021

Lisa--when I was young, only my mom really paid attention to what I had to say, and I remember how happy it made me feel. I think it was when I was in my twenties that my dad started listening to what I had to say and even then…You are right about feeling respected when you parents really listen to you when you are a child.

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Amie Warwick

20-Feb-2021

Lisa, your kids sound mature for their age. But I know what you are saying, we always ignore kids. It does make you think though--imagine living in a world, where no one takes you seriously--that would totally suck.