None of these responses are right and I am sure there are many more incorrect responses that I left out, especially on the not so smooth days. I am sure like most parents our hearts are truly in the right place most of the time, but I really encourage you to be as intentionally as you possibly can when it comes to hearing out your children. True many times what they have to say may not seem very important to us, but what matters is that it is important to them and how and when we choose to respond to them speaks VOLUMES.
Sometimes it is a fact that we can't just stop what we are doing to hear what they have to say. I can't tell you how many times my third daughter picks the moment I am in the parking lot by myself in the scorching heat trying to get 6 children from the busy parking lot to the store alive that she suddenly decides she has something very important to say or a vital to life question for me to answer right then. At those moments I can be very tempted to say "Not now" in a more irritated are-you-kidding-me-right-now kind of tone, but I have to make a conscious effort to calmly let her know "I really care what you have to say, but can we get safely inside first?". She usually smiles and is okay with that response, but I have to make sure I don't let it just stop there. Once we have all made it inside the building, I try my best to stick to my word, get down on her level, look her in the eyes, and ask here what it is she wanted to tell me. What does that let my daughter know? I truly care and she is important! Taking these special moments will also encourage her to keep that open and honest line of communication open with me even when she is older.
A big thing I have noticed with my youngest daughter, Adley, is that she tends to ask things when I am busy tending to her younger brothers. Sometimes I can't help but wonder if she has the urge to talk to me or ask stuff at those times to feel a little reassurance that she still has that secure spot in our family, that she is still just as important as "the babies". So mid-poopie diaper if I feel like I can't give her my full attention I will ask her if I can finish changing the diaper first because I really want to hear what she has to say. I may even pull her in and ask her if she can help me finish up faster by handing me wipes or some another "important task" to help let her know she is needed, capable, important, and a big girl! Once I am finished, again making that conscious effort to sit down with her and let her know I am so excited and now ready to truly hear her out!
Sometimes if we pay close enough attention, our children will try communicating with us without really "talking to us". Let me elaborate. Again, my third daughter is probably the one who I notice this in most commonly. She will suddenly be extra extra cuddly with me or suddenly all up in the mix of whatever I am doing. Its easy to overlook what is really going on and get a little frustrated because you're right in the middle of making dinner for the whole crew or busy trying to make a dent in your "laundry for days", but if you really pay attention maybe that child has something they are trying to say but it may take a lil' prodding to actually get it out of them. Sometimes they don't even quite understand themselves what is wrong, but if you take the time to put the seemingly urgent tasks on pause for a moment and take that extra time to talk things out with your child then maybe you can help them to discover the underlying issue. And sometimes they are just "saying", "I need a little extra love and time and I am not sure just how to ask for it".
Now lets flip looking at communication from our child to us and focus on our communication to our child (or children). In communicating with our kids on a daily basis at their earlier stages of life I think it is a fact that we are doing a lot more correcting with our words than we would sometimes like."No! Stop doing this" and "No! We don't say that", are very prevalent phrases used as they are learning boundaries and developing a sense of what good character and respect truly mean. But at a this stage in time where a lot of quick correction is often needed, we also need to make sure we are just as quick to emphasize the good choices our children are making as well on a day to day basis with our words. Grab those opportunities, even if at times they seem few and far between, to lift them up and praise them. "You're so cute" and "Look home handsome you are" are easy comments to make, but when we see them let someone else go ahead of them-praise them for it. When you notice your child working hard at something and not giving up, make sure you let them know how awesome that is and ask them if they are proud of themselves. Take those moments to help empower them, let them know how important they are, and that you value them and they should value themselves too.
Our words carry so much more weight with our children than I think we are even aware of-at least while they are young. The choices we make now in how we choose to listen to our children and communicate with them now will dictate how much weight they will hold in the future. If you know every time you make a mistake you are going to get yelled at, do you think when that child becomes a teen they are going to feel comfortable telling you if they find themselves in a difficult situation? If while they were young we were always too busy to truly hear them out or constantly giving them empty "uh-huhs" that they will still want to talk to you and let you know what is truly going on in their life? I wouldn't. I hope I am providing my kids with a safe atmosphere to communicate in. That is they are going through a small struggle they know I am not going to run and tell grandma all about it and embarrass them. I want them to know that what they have to say is important. I want them to know that their dreams and questions can change the world! I want to do my best to let them know that if I promise them something with my words that I truly mean it! I want to encourage you parents not to doubt the weight of your actions and words when it comes to communicating with your kiddos.
|Best moments ever|
|At play while sissy dances|
|Ready for the Olympics!|
|Learning he still must sit to eat even|
without his high chair
|Little do they know they are waiting for a mermaid|
|Sea shell necklaces|
|Aidy talking it up with the mermaid|