You’ve said those phrases a million times, “Are you listening to me?” “Look at mommy in the eyes” and “What did I just say?”
Listening is one of the most important life skills we can equip our children with. It will undoubtedly impact every relationship they will ever pursue, cultivate, or invest in.
Yet, so many parents admit they feel like their children just don’t listen to them.
Moms are growing weary in the midst of desiring to stay consistent in training their younger children, but just don’t feel they are making a breakthrough.
Parents of teenagers often complain of disrespect and fear they have lost their child’s hearts entirely. They recount the sharp words that pierce their soul, “I HATE YOU,” as the slamming of the door vibrates in their memory. And others share of a tragic phase they describe as The Silent Treatment.
Regardless of your child’s age, there is a desperate need for us parents to wake up and teach our children how to communicate healthily!
There are 3 Things You can Do to Teach Your Child How to Be a Good Listener
- Teach them WHY being a good listener is important! This skill will be vital to their success in relationships the rest of their lives–in family, business, friendship, and especially in their relationship with the Lord!
- Train them in having self-control and discernment in when to speak out of care for the other person (this also requires training in humility and respect for others).
- Model good listening and communication skills. Children are always watching and they will learn more from your example, specifically in how you engage with them.
How many times have you gotten down on your knees, held your two or three-year-olds hands and said, “Look at mommy in the eyes,” to get their attention? I hope you are thinking to yourself, “a thousand times a day.”
But do you know where it starts?
It doesn’t start there, not even on your knees.
From the time our children are responding to us as babes, we have a great opportunity to teach the value of listening.
It starts the minute we take the time to lock eyes with our precious babies as they are looking up at us in between snuggles. Teaching our child to listen begins with how we model listening to them. And then in how we model listening to our husband and other children.
Are you a good listener?
When I was in University I remember taking a communications class where one of the textbooks was solely focused on teaching how to be a good listener. Statistics show that communication problems are a leading cause of divorce according to the Huffington Post. According to many articles on the topic of “Why people get divorced”, both men and women complain of communication issues.
In fact, “Men often complain that they are still thinking about an answer when their partner starts badgering them for a quicker response or asks another question while they are still thinking about the last one. Take time to pause by counting to 30 before saying anything at all and don’t ask several questions at once.” Huffington Post
The issue at hand could be described in various symptoms, interrupting, forgetting to pause and allow the other person to gather their thoughts and contribute to the conversation, finishing sentences, and even simply dominating the conversation. All fit in the simple category of being a good listener and showing respect to others you are in conversation with.
I’m sure you get where I am going with this.
Of course, we want to have a thriving relationship with our child, one where there is mutual respect regarding listening. But there is something even greater at risk if we don’t teach our children how to listen.
If we, as moms, desire for our children to have successful marriages down the road, when our kids are older, one of the essential skills we need to teach our children is the ability to listen and communicate respectfully.
I really value this exhortation from Jon Bloom on Desiring God regarding being a good listener:
“A quickness to listen is a mark of humility, something I do when I consider someone else more significant than myself (Philippians 2:3). Listening to understand before I respond is a sign that I am not wise in my own eyes (Proverbs 12:15), not leaning on my own understanding (Proverbs 3:6). I really want to grow in this grace.”
Amen. I want to grow in this grace too!
Have you ever heard the term that a child’s play is their work?
How a child practices, becomes his behavior when he is older. Our children are developing communication habits right now that will follow them into their adulthood.
We should recognize the deep connection between how we model and teach our children to communicate and the habits, both good or bad, that we will instill in them–the habits that will impact their families for generations to come.
So is your child a good listener?
Maybe you are thinking about how you and your teenager are struggling to communicate effectively. If this is you, I want to tell you a little secret.
Overwhelm your child, your teen, with respect and just listen to them.
It’s really that simple. They just want to be heard. Children are trying to figure out how to process their feelings, emotions, thoughts, knowledge, and they are curious. Our kids are learning and they need a safe place to process.
If you are always correcting your child and never letting them come up with self-inspired ideas or allowing them the time to grow on their journey towards getting wisdom, you will be paralyzing your relationship as well as their development.
Listen, I get it. The reason I am sharing this with you is because I have failed at this majorly as a mom. I have overwhelmed four and fifteen-year-olds with 45 minute and two-hour lectures because I was so deeply concerned. And how I overwhelmed them was by diving into Scripture and digging in for far too long.
Now, sometimes a 45-minute talk is necessary, but where I went wrong was that I did most of the talking and not enough listening.
Don’t make the same mistake I did. Instead, choose to show the respect you so desire from your child.
Ask questions, hear from their heart, let the Spirit lead when you speak, and then get on your knees and take it to the one who can change a child’s heart.
“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,” James 1:19