There are times when we’re so confused seeing what our children do. For instance, it’s time for them to take a bath because they have to go to school, but they refuse to do so. We’ve tried everything to make them do what we ask but it’s not working. They keep refusing, arguing and not listening everything we say. Then, we’ll wonder why they don’t want to listen and ask ourselves how can we make them listen. The answer for the latter is not something new. It’s that if we want to be listened, we have to LISTEN.
When we hear this, we may think that we’ve been listening but it’s still not working. This may make us thinking further, why is that so. The answer for this is basically simple too. We may think that we’ve been listening, but this is from our point of view. Have we checked from our children’s point of view? The most possible reason why they don’t listen to us, from their point of view, is because we are basically not listening enough. Then how do we know and check that we have listened enough. We actually don’t have to literally check it, we will know and feel it. There are signs when they start listening to us. The signs are:
- When the frequency of our children not listening less happen (It’s impossible if children completely listen to us because it’s actually normal not listening sometimes and it’s part of their development. If they obey us completely, it’s actually the time we should worry about).
- When they don’t want to listen, it’s something that can be solved in a short time.
To make those happen, there are ways of listening children we must do. Here are the ways:
- Stop and listen to our children when they need us, no matter how busy we are.
When we are busy doing errands, sometimes we feel annoyed if our children seek our attention. Our first reaction may refuse to listen by saying,”I’m busy right now! I can’t talk to you!” If we refuse our children instantly like that, they will feel not being listened and rejected. If we keep doing it, the feeling will stay in their mind. To make children not misunderstood us in that kind of situation, here are what we can do:
- If what we do is something which can’t be delayed, we still have to stop for a while to give explanation why we can talk to them at the moment, tell that we will talk to them later and give approximation time when we can talk to them. This way, they won’t feel being rejected because they know our reason and by giving the approximation time, they will know the time limit they have to wait and not feel restless of not knowing when we can talk to them. And the most important thing to do by us is that we have to keep our promise. Never forget to talk with our children after we finish our work.
- If what we do is something which can be delayed, it’s good if we stop our errand and listen what they’re going to say and need.
When we do those, what our children get is that we’re going to listen to them no matter how busy we are. This make them feel being listened and understood. This also becomes their example. So next time, we’re the one who need to be listened, they will follow our lead and listen to us.
- Know everything our children like.
When we spend times with our children, talk about everything they like such as their favorite movies, songs, games, etc. Find out everything about their favorites, though we may not like their choices (In terms of their preferences, for example we may not like their favorite movie because it’s the movie for children). That way, when they talk about what they like, we can respond to what they say and we’ll have lots to talk about. This will make them thinking that we know everything and make them happy. Knowing what they like is also useful at the situation where we have to persuade and calm them. We can use their favorite characters story and relate it with their situation (It’s optional and depends on the situation, but using their favorites can be a way to calm our children in the beginning before we talk seriously, especially for young children). After they calm, it’s usually easier to make them listening to us.
- Appreciate their imagination
When they make drawing, tell story, create their own games or anything, always appreciate and listen attentively, though what they’ve made seem absurd for us. Ask a lot about what they’ve made, so we can understand their way of thinking and praise them. This way they will feel appreciated and being listened. Later on, the next time we tell something important which may not be easy to understand by them, they will listen as we have listened their story which are not easy to be understood.
- Being calm and listen to them when they are in the emotion turmoil
When our children is having temper tantrum, being sad or when they do something which make their teacher calls us, it’s sometimes not easy for us to keep being calm. Yet, it’s a very important thing to do. By being calm, we will able to talk, deal with their emotion and figure out way to solve the problem. This will make them calm too and feel understood. And the next time, we’re not emotionally well, we might be surprised as they would act the same way as we do and understand us.
- Being empathetic to them.
Listening is not only by hearing but by seeing and mostly by our feeling as well. There are unspoken words which can be seen from facial expression, gesture and body language. We have to pay attention to all of those and be empathetic. By doing those we will know the perfect time to tell something to our children without causing rejection or at least the rejection would be minimum and we’ll be able to able to persuade them in short time because we have had figuring out how they would feel or react. So, it’s like listening to them before something happens and we have been prepared to deal with them which eventually will make them listening to us (without them feeling forced to listen to us). Here is a situation example :
We sometimes ask our children to do something, when they’re in the middle of something. It’s just like us, they won’t like being interrupted when they’re busy. Let’s say, we ask them to stop playing abruptly because they have to take a bath. Their reaction would be feeling upset, refusing to do what we ask, arguing with us and deciding not to listen to us. To avoid this kind of situation, we have to be able to find the perfect timing to stop our children from doing an activity to do another activity. In the example situation, we can’t stop them abruptly. We have to give them preliminary warning like,”I know you’re having fun now, but in ten minutes, you have to take a bath because we have to go to the doctor!” By stating their feeling, giving approximation time and giving reason why they have to stop will reduce the possibility they argue with us, because they’ll feel our empathy. They know that we know they enjoy playing and we have given opportunity to do what they like before they have to do what we ask for.
This kind of act, again, will make them feeling understood. Therefore, the next time we’re busy, they’ll be empathetic to us too.
Those are ways of listening children. Do it all the times. This doesn’t mean that we have to spend all of our times with them. What I meant is that we have to listen attentively and being empathetic to them all the time. Hence, those must be followed with our actions: keep our promise, give what they need and -the most important- be their example. By doing those, they will follow our lead and listen as we have listened to them.