Does your kid ever appear to tune you out, only to find out they’re really listening?
When my youngest was small he LOVED the word “no.” He used it so often you’d wonder if he truly understood the meaning or was just messing with you. My husband and I decided to see how much he was listening to us by changing up the questions. “Are you hungry?” “No!” “Are you tired?” “No!” “Do you want to play with a toy?” “No!” “Do you want a million dollars?” Pause. “Yes!” So, he was listening.
Speed up to teens years, both youngest and oldest engage with my husband and I in different ways. The youngest more likely to talk and listen. The oldest more likely to nod, shake head, or grunt. Texting is sometimes the most effective way to get messages across. 😂
Though I’m unclear how often our sons actually listen to us, I was happily surprised when we were sitting in a movie and the previews were showing. Normally we tune them out, unless something about them really catches our attention. I wish I could remember which trailer it was but the preview showed the main character conflicted about what to do in a situation and clearly a future act of violence was on their mind. The supporting character said, “Don’t get even by hurting those that did wrong by you, but get even by doing right by those that helped you.” There was an audible gasp for those in the theater. It was profound in focusing on taking the high road, making choices that lead to opportunity, it was so well said and I was glad it didn’t come from my husband or I. The audible gasp by others in the theater caught my boys attention. What was just said was important perhaps even wise. They were listening.😊
How do you get your kid to listen (particularly when trying to get an important point across)? Have any parent-hacks you can share around how you got your child to listen?
In our family, we’ve always had dinner together, but as my husband and I have had to travel for work more often, or get to meetings in the evening, and the kids have grown and become more independent, getting us all together at the dinner table became more inconsistent. Until the pandemic kept us home.
Sitting at the table in the early days allowed us to talk about what was going on, and how we were feeling. Obviously a delicate balance since none of us had been through a pandemic before, and as parents we wanted our children to feel safe (we’d take the needed precautions and would get through this together). Each family member learned about the virus, the history of other pandemics, medical findings, and shared what we learned at the table. We dealt with boredom and frustration at being home and confined to our neighborhood. We talked about looking for the good in a difficult situation.
My appreciation for us gathering at dinner time grew when school started back up. Our oldest has a modified schedule where he has anywhere from 3-4 subjects a day (vs. the normal 7). They alternate days and subjects so he receives all the instruction he needs over any given week. In previous school years if I asked him how things were going or how his day was I’d most often get a “fine.” But with Covid and him doing remote learning I could dig deeper and get him to open up. Asking him questions — “what classes did you have today?” “How is that going?” “Do you feel like you’re understanding what they’re teaching you?” “What would help you better understand the material?” — was eye opening. My husband and I felt we got a much better picture than we’ve had before. The question we left our son with was, “What can we do to help?” He wants to try things on his own for now, and we want to encourage his growing independence. We appreciate the chance to check-in and share with our kids, and better understand what they’re dealing with and going through. It will be one of the few things I hope we maintain with the same consistency once we are past the pandemic.
How are you connecting with your child? What type of conversations are you having at the dinner table?
Do you think you’re kids are paying attention to what you say?
It feels like my kids often have selective hearing. I have to remind them to: make their lunch, pick up their clothes, wash their hands, put on deodorant and the list goes on. There are other times when my kids seem really tuned in to what they are hearing. My youngest son and I were watching TV when Facebook’s mea culpa ad came on. I didn’t think my son was paying attention to the ad. As the ad finished, he looked at me and said, “I don’t know why Facebook is apologizing. Cambridge Analytica should be. It’s their fault this happened.” I was stunned. I’m not sure I agreed with his assessment of the situation but was more in wonder of where had he heard of Cambridge Analytica? How did he make this connection? I asked him. “Mom, I listen to the radio,” he said. My husband does have NPR on most of the time he’s driving. “I’m up on world news,” and he laughed as if me asking him how he knew about Cambridge Analytica was the silliest thing he’d ever heard.
Clearly my kids are paying attention more than I realized. Yes, I will have to continue to remind them to do their chores, but they are listening — to our conversations, what’s on TV, and the radio, and they are forming their own opinions around how the world works and right from wrong. I’m inspired to pay closer attention, ask them questions and challenge their assumptions, and encourage them to challenge mine.
What are your kids listening to? How are you helping them decipher all the messaging that comes their way?
I will be off next week celebrating Memorial Day with family and will return in June. Happy Memorial Day!