Thursday, July 19, 2012

Avoiding Conflicts: How to Listen to your Chidlren

If you want to unlock the door to communication with your child, the most important thing to do is to listen to them.  How do you feel when you go to a work meeting and you leave feeling like no one REALLY heard what you said? Frustrating, right? How do you feel when you write a To Do list for your husband and it doesn't even get read? I'm willing to bet you feel angry, let down, and confused.  This is how our children feel when they're unable to express their feelings or ask for what they need.
The number one cause of disruptive behavior among children is the feeling that they are not being heard (which is often just a case of being misunderstood).  For example, Charlie is learning to tie his shoes (this is an important goal to him) and every time he tries to do it himself his mom hurries him out the door and gets mad at him because he's taking too long.  This is a very common example of how kids and adults aren't on the same page causing friction for everyone.

If we set up a good communication system with our children, then we will build a solid foundation for the future.  If we TRULY take the time to listen to our children then we will find out what is really important to them and how to help them be confident, happy, and even understand our rules-leading to more cooperation.  In addition, if we take the time to listen to our children they will take the time to listen to us.

Here are a few ways to show your children you're listening...

1.  Get down on their level.  Kneel or sit on the floor  until your eyes are level with their eyes.  This will show them that you aren't just an authoritative figure (meanie) but that you truly care.

2.  Repeat their message Say things like, "I think what you're saying is that you don't think your teacher is fair.  Is that correct?"

3.  Take time and be present.  Put down your phone, resist cleaning the bathroom, and be engaged in THEIR world.  Children can tell when your mind is elsewhere!

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