Some days it feels like our kids talk from the second they wake up, to the second they lay their heads down at night. And even then they seem to talk right up until the moment they fall asleep! But, for all of the chatter, and talk of TikTok, friend drama, or playground politics, how much are you actually listening to?
You hear your children, of that I have no doubt. But between the demands for snacks, requests for rides to a friend’s house, or going over homework, it can be difficult to take the time to listen to our children, and understand what is going on beneath the surface.
I find when I’m struggling to truly listen to my children, I try some of the following:
Listen more than you talk. As a dad, this one is hard. I have the answers, right? But I’ve come to realize that the more I talk, the less space they have, and this allows them to set the tone and conversation.
Take in the unsaid. With up to 55% of communication being non-verbal, body language and tics are another guide to the topic at hand. If your child is fidgety, won’t make eye contact, or visibly agitated, take note of these cues and see how they align with whatever is being said.
Don’t formulate an answer as they speak. We’re all guilty of this one. As our child is speaking we’re already putting an answer together that we’ll have at the ready. Will this tactic impart some Dad Wisdom? Sometimes. Will it let you listen to your child 100%? No.
Go back in time. Think about how it felt when you knew an adult in your life wasn’t listening to you. I know that you don’t want to impose that dismissed feeling on your child. This step is a great reminder to step back, and let your child take the lead.
Listening to our children isn’t an on-and-off switch; there is a whole lot of noise, some static, but every now and then you’ll hear a real gem. Let listening to your child help grow the connection between you two, and you’ll be surprised how listening gets easier as time goes on.