Photo compliments of PIXABAY/
My youngest granddaughter, Claire, isn’t quite two. The other morning she woke up and ran into her parents bedroom. She touched her dad’s bare toes and said, “Yuk.”
She ran out of the room, into her bedroom, opened a drawer, pulled out a few pair of socks and ran back to her dad. She covered each of his toes with a pair of her socks.
She hadn’t said YUCK about her dad’s cold toes. She’d said SOCKS.
She’s learning how to put words and sentences together. We don’t always know what she’s trying to say, so we often interpret her incorrectly, but when we do, she lets us know. She gets frustrated when we don’t understand her. She repeats the word, but it doesn’t help because it doesn’t sound like anything we’re familiar with.
Listening is a skill that many people haven’t mastered. Myself included. When people are talking to me, I’m often thinking about hijacking the conversation to add what I want to say. Instead, I should be focusing on what they’re saying.
So how can we try to show that we’re listening?
We might say, “That’s interesting. Tell me more.”
Or we ask good questions. It helps clarify meaning.
When Claire is trying to help us understand what she needs, we’ll say, “Is this what you want?” And we’ll point to something. We’ll work to clarify her meaning.
Many times she says, “No!”
We’ll ask more questions. “Are you saying MILK?” Or we’ll say, “Show Me.” Then she’ll run off and bring something back that illustrates her needs.
Listening takes practice, but the rewards are worth the effort. Yes, listening helps the person talking to you, but listening will also help build a closer relationship between you and your children. When you listen, you’re saying, “You matter. I value you.”
If we show our children how much we care by asking them questions in a non-threatening way, they’ll tell us so much more.