The Parent-Teacher-Child Connection: Listen to your children...

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Listen to your children...

I copy this quote from a friend with three wonderful children: Listen to your children. Allow them to believe that they have the right to a voice, and that their ‘voice’ is valued. By listening to the thoughts, ideas and contributions of children we can help them to achieve their full potential by valuing their participation in matters that affect their lives. I couldn't have said it better myself!

Too often we spend our lives telling our children how to lead theirs: Make your bed, eat your breakfast, do your homework, get your cleats on, finish your dinner, go to bed, etc. etc. etc.  However, more important than being a dictator parent like that is being the Father Confessor parent by listening, truly listening to their problems, complaints, and yes, their sins.  When you take the time to listen with the heart of a parent and the ear of a friend, you'll find that your children have the amazing ability to solve their own problems when given half a chance to do so!

Here are some tips for actively listening to your children:
1. Stop what you're doing when you child approaches you.
2. Look directly at your child.  If you're standing, sit together so you're on nearly the same level.
3. Be quiet while your child explains the problem or simply tells about his or her day.  
4. Use simple responses like, "Go on," "What else happened" or "Tell me more" that show your interest in the topic.
5. Listen for and reiterate the feelings you hear: "I sense your frustration with math" or "You must be really disappointed that you lost that critical game."
6. Ask, don't tell, your child what you can do to help.  
7. Never ever tell your child that his thoughts, feelings, or opinions are wrong or invalid by saying, "You don't mean that."  If she didn't mean it, she wouldn't have said it!

When you start this process when your children are little, you'll be glad you did when they become teenagers.  Those teenagers will tend to share more than you really want to know, but that information becomes very helpful in guiding them into responsible adulthood.  I know!  I've been there!  Any kids are now awesome adults!

Happy Parenting!

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