Like most people, particularly parents, I have to constantly remind myself to listen. My daughters and wife tell me that I have a tendency to “lecture” or “repeat” myself. I guess I just want to make sure that my verbal wisdom is being heard, when actually the receiver ends up just tuning me out. Not the results I really want. So I practice everyday the art of listening and “lecturing” less. When instructing parents, one of the first things we tell them to do is “shut up” and just listen to their kids. You want your kids to talk to you, so when they are talking don’t stop the flow. Keep the conversation going with responses such as, “I see”, “Tell me more.”, or just nod your head. These actions all encourage the speaker to continue. Do not start injecting your opinion until it is asked for. If you do this, you will be amazed at the things you learn. This also works when younger kids are telling you about something they experienced. Keep encouraging them to tell you more. Don’t worry about the details or accuracy. I have witnessed situations where a child is telling their story, and the parent keeps interrupting with corrections and additions. Can you guess what happens? Right, the kid finally just stops telling the story…they give up. So please, when a child is telling a story just let them do it. Also, it will be helping them develop their verbal skills and socialization with those around them.
Here’s a little tip that you can use to help you get better results when communicating with your kids: give them a way to interrupt you in a respectful way. When I was teaching high school I also did tutoring for younger students who were having math issues. My goal was to work at understanding and not so much at mechanics. Anyway, I was tutoring a young lady of about ten years old and told her that sometimes in my attempt to explain, she may just be hearing, “blah, blah, blah…” and that she was welcome to stop me so I didn’t go on and on and on. One day I was trying to explain the intricacies of money when she looked up at me and said, “Blah, blah, blah, blah.” It was so great. I started laughing and she starting laughing. I acknowledged her for taking care of herself by stopping me. Encouraging her to do this made each of us better listeners and communicators. To sum this all up…shut up and listen, it’s that easy. Have fun today and remember…take care of yourself. Ross