Listening: One of the MOST underused and underrated parenting tools out there! And I am NOT judging, because I raise my hand in solidarity for not listening or, even better, pretending to listen. Let’s use this quote as our guide this week:

“We need to accept our children as partners in the business of creating family harmony. Their ideas and viewpoints are important, particularly since they act in accordance with them!”  

Rudolf Dreikurs

Wait, let’s read it one more time, let it soak in…

“We need to accept our children as partners in the business of creating family harmony. Their ideas and viewpoints are important, particularly since they act in accordance with them!” 

Rudolf Dreikurs

Why Listen?

Listening is a great way to know the real child you live with, it’s a relationship and trust builder, and if you listen well, they usually come back to you to tell you more!

Most of us parents talk too much. It relieves our anxiety, it makes us feel in control, and we have so many good ideas. In addition, we aren’t such good listeners and we don’t practice the patience we so often ask from our kids. We rush our kids, we don’t consider, or really even know their thoughts and desires. And you know why we might want to get super duper curious about what our children think, feel, want, need, desire?

Well, back to our friend Rudolf Dreikurs: “Their ideas and viewpoints are important, particularly since they act in accordance with them!”

How to Listen

Instead of lecturing your small people this week, try one or more of the ideas below:

  1. Talk 80% less at your kids.

  2. Give advice only when asked (eek, what? impossible, I know).
     
  3. Whatever advice you want to give them, turn it around on yourself (stop procrastinating, clean your room, go work out, call a friend, get off your device, practice your piano), and then decide if and how you want to convey the message.

  4. When it’s necessary to give them instructions, go to them, get down on their eye level, touch their arm lightly and then give the instructions.

  5. Give them a minute to respond, letting their brains work. Allow space for cooperation. You might even accept some bad decision making because as Mark Twain said, “Good judgment is the result of experience, and experience the result of bad judgment.” Best to get some of that bad judgment out of the way before they leave the house.

  6. Ask an open ended question. Then, listen and do nothing else. “How can mornings go more smoothly?” “What meal would you like to learn how to cook?” “How can we make 2024 better for our family?”

  7. Be curious about their private logic. We all have private logic that dictates our decisions and actions. This is often separate from the truth or facts about the situation. It’s private logic that causes kids to do the things they do. If you listen to understand where they’re coming from, you’ll find the key to solving a lot of problems together.

I promise, if you do one or two of these you will learn A LOT about the people you live with!

*Post originally published on the Balancing Act, LLC blog, 2018