Many people today constantly bemoan the fact that children just don’t seem to be good listeners. Most people blame video games, or television, or music, or the children themselves, but I think that the cause is entirely different. I think the cause is the parents of said children.
People always say that children are a mirror of their parents, but they always try to avoid the blame when their children act out. It’s time to take charge and be responsible parents, and lead your children by example.
The best way to get your children to listen to you more is to listen to them more. An environment of mutual respect is an environment that you can learn well in. Listen to your children with both your eyes and ears, and show that you actually care about what they have to say. Often, children will say “Oh, you won’t listen/care/believe me anyway.” This is a bad sign; it shows that there is no longer an environment of trust. You have to build that up and create a closer relationship with your kids.
Listening isn’t really something that’s taught in school specifically; most parents think it comes naturally and isn’t all that important to focus on. Listening skills, however, play a very large part in how well you learn in school and is your only real way to interact with others. Almost all the time in the classroom, a student is listening to the teacher. Listening should be paramount in your child’s education, but is usually just thrown to the wayside.
Parents should start by being a good model of listening behavior. Focus attention on your kids’ messages and review important information with them. Advise them on how to be an active learner and pick out highlights of a conversation. It’s best to be willing to put down whatever you’re doing in order to listen to your child; he or she will learn by example and be more likely to do the same. A distracted listener is a bad listener.
Always be interested and attentive with you child. Your kids can actually tell whether or not you’re really paying attention, so always pay attention and ignore any distractions! Show that you actually care. Encourage them to talk and listen patiently. Hear them out and never cut them off. Never form opinions before they are finished, and always remember to respect them and their right to express themselves. These should be obvious guidelines, but you’d be surprised at how often parents forget to remember them!
Also remember to pay attention to nonverbal cues! Most of the things people say are actually communicated by facial expressions, energy level, tone of voice, posture, or behavior. You can generally tell more about something from these nonverbal cues than from the actual talking. When someone is obviously upset, for example, you should react differently from when they are happy.
Children really depend on their parents as their number one adult and mentor. Make sure that you teach them the social skills they will need in life!