Shut Up and Listen!

01/01/2017 05:29 pm ET
Listen to your kids and understand what's on their minds.

Shut up and listen!

Shut Up and Listen!

Listening to our kids can sometimes be difficult especially if their tone is grating and criticizing, but it’s so important. To know that you are really interested in their lives and concerns gives kids the support they need to help them deal with their lives confidently and happily.

Here are some helpful hints:

1. Encourage your kids to tell you what’s happening.

2. Remove distractions whenever possible including the T.V., phone, computer, other screens and even other people.

3. Often it’s not about solving their problems by you, so don’t jump into the “fix-it” mode and just sit back and listen without interruptions.

4. Allow time for conversation to develop especially with kids who don’t get to the key issues immediately. They may talk about a friend with a similar problem or a random ice-breaker about their day. In time, they get to the core of what’s on their mind. So wait, step back, and allow many minutes to pass. Don’t jump in, the important stuff will come with your patience.

5. Ask questions to encourage more details about what sounds important. Simply saying, “I see, tell me more” goes a lot further than pushing them to get to the point.

6. Create time even when you don’t think you have any to spare. Sometimes the mundane routines feel important because they help you feel in order and in control, but letting them go may be more important to find precious minutes to listen to your child.

7. Don’t use email and texts to substitute for conversations in person. It’s easy to slip into thinking you’re communicating when you’re actually just scheduling and checking in. You need time to wait and listen. That text may not be about what’s really important.

8. Give in to your chore organizing options and do your child’s chore with him or her. This gives you more opportunities to talk as you complete the task at hand. Then sit down and slow down and have more conversation. The time is there for the taking.

9. Tell your kids about your day as an ice-breaker to hearing about theirs. They want to know you as much as you want to know them. Thank them for listening to you. They’ll be pleased you care that they took the time and want to reciprocate.,

10. Express your gratitude that your child trusted you to share what’s important. Let them know you are really there for them and they will believe it because you’ve been there when they needed it not only when you had time. Thanks go a long way.

The whole idea of listening is getting to know your child and strengthening that parent-child bond at all ages and stages of development. If you begin having conversations when they are young, it’s easier when they have those spurts of independence when it seems they don’t want to say a word to you. Actually, undercover they still need your guidance and just need you to keep opening that door that says, “I love you and want to know what’s on your mind.”

Laurie Hollman, Ph.D., is a psychoanalyst and author of Unlocking Parental Intelligence: Finding Meaning in Your Child’s Behavior found on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Familius and wherever books are sold. Visit her website to learn more about what she has to say: http://lauriehollmanphd.com and then contact her—she wants to listen to YOU!

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