One of the most important things is being able to listen. We all instinctively know this but perhaps neglect it when it’s our own kids. As a parent you will probably be hit by a barrage of communication all day and it is very tempting to just switch off. If you are busy or trying to concentrate on something then again you won’t be inclined to listen to what your child wants to say.
We need to remember that children are whimsical creatures, they think of something and the first thing they want to do is tell Mum or Dad. We should be flattered rather than annoyed that they want to bestow their thoughts upon us. Your child will happily butt in on conversations or your thoughts regardless. But annoyance is the worst favour we can return.
You can teach your children some etiquette in terms of this. You could say something along the lines of “Wow thanks so much for telling me, now next time you want to tell me something and Mummy is talking first you just need to say ‘Mummy, I need to tell you something’ and then just wait a moment so I can stop what I am doing and listen”. After a few times they will get the idea and you can manage the interruption better. Make sure you do then stop and listen, keep your end of the bargain.
When you listen then make really sure that you put your full attention on what your child is saying. Wait for them to finish and make sure they have finished. You can ask them “Is that everything you wanted to tell me?” Once they have said it all they will be fine because you are showing them that they are important and what they have to say is important to you.
It will also allow you to truthfully say at another time “You have to listen to Mummy now, because Mummy has something important to say to you, Mummy listens to you doesn’t she? So now it’s your turn.” Most children have a strong sense of justice and will see that this is fair.
Once your child has told you what they want to tell you then make sure you let them know you’ve heard it. Give them an appropriate answer if necessary or at the very least a response like “Wow! That’s amazing!” or “Really? That’s really interesting.” Having shown that you have listened, taken in what they said and that you have heard it they will most likely go and resume whatever it was they were doing.
Do this in your daily life with your child and you will see the difference. If you love your child then listen to them, it couldn’t be simpler than that.
David Evans Bailey has an MA in Digital Media Art. He taught ICT and Photography at Secondary School level for several years as well as being involved in many theatrical and other endeavours. His background is an IT professional. You can see some of his artwork at www.davidevansbailey.com