Do you listen properly when your children are talking to you? Or do you sometimes hear them yet fail to take in a single word?
Perhaps you’re wondering what to cook for supper as they describe a film they’ve just seen. Or fuming over work politics as they talk about their afternoon at a friend’s house. Maybe you’re just daydreaming as they chatter. Whatever, you’re miles away.
It’s OK. We all do it.
Yet it’s not really OK. They may only be children but they’re not stupid. They know when someone’s not listening. The sad thing is they won’t question it because they assume adults are right. They’ll just grow up thinking they’re not that interesting.
So next time your child tries to tell you something:
- Stop whatever you’re doing and look at them.
- Empty your mind of all other thoughts.
- Focus 100% on them and what they’re saying.
- Look interested.
- Don’t interrupt.
- Don’t tell them to get on with it.
- Don’t assume you know what they’re going to say and jump in with a response before they’ve finished.
- At the end, ask questions to check you’ve understood.
Parents of teenagers often complain that ‘they never tell me anything’. That’s probably because the teenagers have finally sussed that it’s not worth bothering.
Get into the habit of listening to your children when they’re young and you may never be burdened with a monosyllabic teen. That alone is a good reason to pay attention.
You could try listening more to your spouse too. What you thought was just them talking drivel might turn out to be fascinating after all.