Listening to Your Little Ones: A New Year’s Resolution You Can Keep
We’ve all done it. I can see myself now, nodding and agreeing with the sounds coming out of my daughter’s mouth before realizing I haven’t actually heard a word she said. Don’t pretend you haven’t done that too. I always know I said yes without listening when I suddenly see something like the dog and toddler covered in my best lotion and I realize THAT is what I was saying yes to!
But no more! I resolve this year to truly listen to my little ones–and my not so little teenagers as well. I have been observing my patterns with my kids and the patterns of other parents and have noticed some very alarming trends in the art of listening.
Electronic communication has virtually wiped out actual face to face conversations. When is the last time you heard your teen talking on the phone? Nope, it’s all texting and direct messaging today. And don’t dare suggest they actually pick up the phone to make a call-way to scary!
Because of this, kids don’t know how to carry on a live conversation including taking turns talking and listening.
And to add insult to injury, parents are less engaged with their kids than ever, handing children electronics as a poor substitute for attention.
So, bottom line? Our kiddos are missing our on valuable experiences in human interactions and communication and they aren’t being heard when they do try to communicate.
I know that we can change this cycle.
5 Ways I am resolving to Listen To My Little Ones in 2018
1. Stop multitasking: It is truly impossible to listen to my daughter tell me about the cute boy in chemistry class when I am mentally making a shopping list, texting, surfing social media sites, or reading. When my kids talk to me I commit to put down what I am doing and listen. If I am in the middle of a crucial task (really, most tasks are NOT crucial), I will ask them to give me just a moment to get to a stopping point so they can have my full attention.
2. Eye contact is key: My cute hubby is constantly telling our 13 year old son that people know you are listening when you look them in the eye-my son is going through his long hair hiding his eyes phase so we are always encouraging eye contact. I’ve had many little ones trying to get my attention who take my face in their cute chubby toddler hands to force eye contact-while it is so sweet, it is also a learning moment. Even little tiny one’s know that if you aren’t looking at them you aren’t fully listening.
3. Hear what is being said non-verbally: So much of what our kids tell us is through their body language, not their words. Slumped shoulders, one syllable answers, aggression, tears, being short-tempered, withdrawing from the family. All can be indicators of something deeper going on. But to notice the body language we need to actually LOOK at our kids. Pay attention to how often you don’t really look at your children and make that small change.
4. Create a safe space: I heard an idea once that a family had a ‘safe couch’ where the kids could share things that were hard to talk about with their parents. Like if they messed up or had a really big problem but didn’t want mom and dad’s judgement, just wanted to be heard. Love this idea. Even if it’s not a physical location, I resolve to be a safe space where the kids can share and not feel judged.
5. Let them own and solve their problems-you just listen. I am a big fan of love and logic and the use of empathy. But letting them own their problems–this is hard for me to do because I want to save them and make them happy all the time. But that is so unrealistic. I believe we are on this earth to learn and grow and become more than we are in this moment, but by always solving my kids problems I am taking away the very thing they need to become. Opposition in all things is important. Trust your kids-they are smarter and more capable than we give them credit. Just be the listening ear so they can come to their own solutions.
At the end of the day, I want to remember the moments I shared with my kids, the laughter, the stories, the fun, and the listening.
Always the listening. Because it’s amazing what you can learn when you shut your mouth.
For more great new years resolutions you’ll actually want to keep, visit:
Cheryl Blinston at Gracefull Parenting “New Year’s Resolution: Does Your Face Light Up?” https://gracefull-parenting.com/face-light-new-years-resolution/
Gleefully Me at https://eliserhurst.wordpress.com “Setting Yourself Up For 2018 Goal Success.” https://eliserhurst.wordpress.com/2017/12/28/setting-yourself-up-for-2018-goal-success/
Laura Petersen at Pink Cake Plate “2018 This Year I Will…” (Goal Setting Worksheet free printable) https://pinkcakeplate.com/2018-i-will-free-printable-goal-worksheet/
Kristie Kerr at Our Kerrazy Adventure “New Year’s Resolution: Working on family journals.” https://www.ourkerrazyadventure.com/
Camille Whiting at Fridays We’re in Love: Getting out of the dinner and a movie rut and making date night happen regularly! https://fridaywereinlove.com/making-date-night-happen/
Jenna Foote at Mom, the Intern “New Year’s Resolution: Cook More, Eat Out Less” https://momtheintern.blogspot.com/2018/01/new-years-resolution-cook-more-eat-out.html
Christine Houghton, Quantum Bounce quantumbounce.blog/2018/01/02/grandmas-secret-to-happiness/