The power of listening

In our quick fix world it can be hard to remember the power of slowing down and listening. I asked a group of education professionals what made a good boss. Most of them came up with someone who listens; To their ideas or their problems. When the same group were asked how much they were listening to children, without interruption or to offer a solution, the number was much lower.

By showing our children how much listening to them can help they are more likely to listen to others (including their parents). They can struggle to answer direct questions so listening to children generally involves just being there. By your presence when they are upset or angry they can tell you what is happening for them but only after they feel reassured.

You may find that what you thought was the issue is not the issue at all. We have all had children who have cried over the wrong colour cup or the broken biscuit. These are just opportunities to have a good cry or tantrum in order to clear themselves of negative feelings.

Listening to children’s upsets rather than trying to fix the problem also allow them to develop new skills. They learn that they can get through emotions. That they can be upset or disappointed but then be ok, with adults to reassure but not to fix. Children learn that they can come up with their own solutions to problems. That even being listened to is a solution. They learn to manage fears and anger by knowing that these are normal emotions and they serve a really good purpose.

Parents can feel under pressure for their children to stop being emotional. I passed a Mum in the shop yesterday telling her child to stop embarrassing her. Culturally we worry about what other people think of us in public places but sometimes we need to put that to one side and listen.

Listening can be hard to do but it can have a big impact on the emotional wellbeing of children. Letting them work their feelings with your support will allow them to develop emotional resilience for when you are not there.

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