Scene: Andy’s bedroom at bedtime, at 11 years old, an avid reader.
Mom asks Andy, “What are your pc’s for today?” (pc’s is short for Positive Comments, and having our kids tell us a couple pc’s is a nightly ritual in our house) He doesn’t even have to think about it as he has no shortage of adventures to relate… some his own and some taken from the book he is reading now… He says, “Reading my book about…and then they…” he dives into the story he’s reading another 5 minutes goes by while he caries on as Margaret is actively listening. “How did they catch the bad guys?” she asks, to let him know she’s with him. This causes him to go much deeper into detail, so he continues for another 22 minutes and relates the whole story.
Kids love to tell their story and get the attention of adults. When they have had a bad day, there’s nobody like their mother or father to hear them out and offer whatever they can. Sometimes we don’t know what to do or offer, but learning to really listen, gets them in the habit of coming to you when things get rough and even if you can’t solve the problem, you accomplish the goal of gaining their trust. This, however, has to begin at an early age or the child does not develop that connection, or trust with mom and/or dad.
Connecting with kids as parents, or any adult, requires that we understand them. Understanding them comes from listening and listening comes from focusing on the moment with them. Focusing on the moment is the hard part for many of us parents. Our human minds are capable of doing only one thing at a time, even though we say we “multitask” all day long. Really, our minds are constantly switching from one focal point to another as we think we are listening as we read the paper. In order to hear and comprehend everything, we need to focus on what’s being said, so put aside your other distractions and listen!