I had to say to one of my children this week, “Stop! You are not listening!” Their response to me was, “I am listening!” At this point we had a quick reminder lesson that listening isn’t just hearing the words but hearing them so well that you are able to act upon them.
We tend to stop listening if
- We have our mind on something else
- We think we know what is being said
- We want to say something instead
To be honest this is a challenge for parent and child alike. I wonder how many times our children talk to us and we aren’t really listening. Not that we have to do everything they ask of us, but we should at least hear their requests, hear what they have to say so that we can respond appropriately.
I am reminded of the character quality of attentiveness: Showing the worth of a person by giving full concentration to his or her words (Character First). One of the things we can do to demonstrate that we are paying attention to the person speaking is to look in their eyes. How many times do we stop what we are doing and really look in our children’s eyes as they tell us something or ask something of us?
I remember when my kids were little if I had eye contact when I asked them to do something then half the battle was over. Imagine calling down the house that it is time to pack toys away; the chances of obedience is very slim. You are 2 rooms away and the chance that they can get away with a bit more play is very high and a risk they are prepared to take!! But if you walk down to that playroom, call their name, have eye contact and then ask them to put the toys away, obedience is much more likely.
Thinking back to when I told my child that they weren’t listening – truth be told, I didn’t have eye contact right from the start, and I should have waited till I did. And I can think of several times, just yesterday, that I didn’t stop what I was doing and look at my children as they came in to talk to me.
Now there is a challenge!