As a single mother of two, I wasn’t always a good listener. I was always busy. Plus when they were little, they didn’t have much going on, so there wasn’t much to listen to; so I thought. As they got older, I had to be asked by them if I was listening and repeat it back. Sometimes I got it right and sometimes I didn’t.
As a Teacher of preschoolers, I have to listen to the talk for various documentation purposes. For example, clear speech, how many words in a sentence, using correct vocabulary and subject/verb agreement. Not only do I have to listen, I like to listen.
Having a conversation with a child and really listening opens up doors to recognizing problems the child may have, exciting things that are happening or they just need someone to talk to. Children have problems that we think they can handle or get over because they don’t have our adult problems. But a child’s problem is usually not child-size. Maybe their pet died or a grandparent. Maybe their friends are mad at them or their teacher yelled at them. Maybe their parents are divorcing or someone they know is sick. Maybe they finally got an A on a test or made the team. Maybe they just want to know how you are doing.
Whatever the reason, we need to stop and listen. We need to hug and high- five. We need to offer advice only when asked. We need to take a deep breath and show our children how important they are to us and that their problems or success are important too.
We just need to listen!