You know what, I’m going to go beyond the title of this article and say if you master this skill, you’re going to have better relationships across the board, not just your kids. Here’s the skill: deep listening. Especially with our kids, it’s really easy to look at a 5, 6, or 7-year-old’s problems or even a 14, 15, 16-year-old and think it’s not really a problem. We hear what they’re saying and we give them the hug, a kiss, and we send them off. But you have to remember that what they’re going through at that moment is actually the biggest thing in their world. One of the things that tends to happen as parents is that you’re just busy doing so many different things that we forget that our kids really need us to sit down and zero in on them when they’re going through something difficult.
Some good practices are when they come to you needing something and they clearly have something on their mind or on their heart, you sit down, put the phone down, shut the computer, and you look right at them. You listen in such a manner that you can repeat back what they said because you’re not listening as you are formulating your response, you’re listening to really hear and understand. Then, instead of trying to fix it, immediately validate their feelings saying phrases like: “that is scary or I do remember feeling like that.”
I think what we’re all looking for no matter the age is to be seen, heard, and known. Let’s allow ourselves to sit in the presence of our children and the people around us and not only learn to listen deeply, but reap the benefits of a better relationship as a result.