Parenting : How Do You Tackle ‘Listening Situations’ at Home?
I came across this poem the other day :
Listen earnestly to anything your children want to tell you, no matter what.
If you don’t listen eagerly to the little stuff when they are little,
they won’t tell you the big stuff when they are big.
Because to them, all of it has always been big stuff.
– Catherine M. Wallace
…… sometimes ALL my kids want to speak to me AT THE SAME TIME. Then. What do we do?
As much as I 100% agree with the poem, as a mom of three, the real challenge is : sometimes ALL my kids want to speak to me AT THE SAME TIME.
What do we do?
Obviously I can only pay attention to one child at a time?
So when such situations happen, this is what I usually do :
1. I prioritise and listen to the child whose conversation topic is ‘more urgent’
To a child, almost everything can be urgent =)
But then to me, there’s urgent, and there’s ‘more urgent’.
For example (a scenario during a car ride) :
Anya: “Brie wants to have some more biscuits now, Mommy.”
Vai: “Mommy!! Look out the window! A man just fell from his bike and it looks like he’s hurt!”
Obviously, the biscuit can wait for a minute?
2. If none of the kids’ topics are urgent,then I prioritise the child who speaks to me first, and I then tell the other kids to wait for their turn (read: not interrupt my conversation with the child), and that I’ll listen to what they have to say immediately after.
3. If I really need to switch my attention for a quick while to child no. 2 during my conversation with child no. 1, then I’d simply tell child no. 1 to wait for a while, and I quickly get back to her after I’m done with child no.2 (whose request is ‘more urgent’ at the time).
Having more than one child in the family allows the children to learn the art of ‘waiting’ while allowing others to be listened to as well. And if you ask me, I think this is a good exercise for each child, ie. For him/her to know that it’s ‘not always about you’, and that they’re to respect their parents who also have important matters to attend to as well.
4. If I’m in the middle of a conversation with my hubby or another adult, and a child wants to speak to me, he/she is to tap on my hand or shoulder and ask, ‘Can I ask you something?’ If I really cannot be interrupted, I’d tell them, ‘Please wait.’
Teaching this to the kids is still an ‘ongoing process’, which means although they’ve been taught again and again about ‘how to interrupt politely when they really have to’, every now and then I still do get interrupted noisily by the two older kids, eg. During a serious conversation at work.
When that happens, yes it’s irritating, and yes, I’d remind them again about learning to watch their manners.
…It takes time to teach ourselves to listen well, and to teach a child to sometimes wait before they’re listened to.
To me, it takes time (and lots of reminders and self-reflections) to teach ourselves to listen well, and to teach a child to wait before they’re listened to.
It’s a ‘skill’ that cannot be learned overnight.
It’s about children respecting the adults, and the adults respecting the children and their needs to be listened to.
So yes, it’s an ongoing process, and I too am still learning to be a better listener to my little ones.
How do you tackle your ‘listening situations’ with the kids at home?