If you can't fly then run, if you can't run then walk,
if you can't walk then crawl, but whatever you do,
you have to keep moving forward.
Martin Luther King Jr.
Every parent’s question…
“How do I get them to do what I want?” “Why don’t they just listen?”
We all ask it. Multiple times a day. We have tried everything. Bribing them. Yelling at them. Punishing them. Being overly indulgent. Begging them.
Well, I would like to propose something new. If you want your child to listen to you, first try to listen to them. Our children, young and old, primarily learn by example. How are our children expected to learn to respect, honor, and listen to our words and feelings, if we do not model such behaviors toward their words and feelings? If we don’t model such behaviors toward our parents, how are they to learn that parents are to be honored?
The first step in gaining your child’s respect for your words is respecting theirs. This is done through active listening. Actually listen. When you approach your child’s complaints with your own feelings of defense and guardedness, you cannot hear their words. What are we afraid of? Listening to them does not mean we lose power or status in front of our kids. The opposite is true! When we give our kids loving eye contact, lower our posture to meet their height, pay full attention to their story, PUT OUR PHONES DOWN, express empathy and compassion, then they will feel heard. They can in turn listen to us without defensiveness or anger. They now have emotional space to listen to us because we have listened to them. We will have modeled how we expect our conversations to run. 1 Timothy 4:12 “but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity”.
After you have showed them with your body that you have listened through eye contact, lowered body posture and full attention, the second step is to prove you are listening by summarizing their words and feelings. “Ok Micheal, I hear you want more TV time before dinner.” Summarizing their words proves to them you understand. You heard them. “I know it feels hard to stop watching a show in the middle of the story.” Now they can feel respected and ready. Now they are ready to listen.
“Ok Micheal, I hear you want more TV time before dinner. But dinner is nice and hot right now. It won’t taste as good once it gets cold after your show. It’s a better idea to come eat now and if there is still time, you can finish your show before bath time.”
“And the Lord listened to the voice of Israel …” Number 21:3. “But the Lord listened to me at that time also.” Deuteronomy 9:19. Active, attentive listening is a gift from our Father! It is a lot of work, but it will work! With time and practice, your entire family will learn that their home is a place that is safe; where they can speak and be heard and be respected in a God honoring home of mutual respect.
MORE PARENT RESOURCES ON LISTENING
Hi! I'm Dr. Linda Abdelsayed. These are just some articles I've created on various life topics. Hope you find them helpful! Check me out on the About and Contact tabs above!