“I just love your child! He always listens and behaves so well!”
Do you ever hear a Sunday school or co-op teacher say those words about the very child who doesn’t seem to listen to a word you say at home? Being both teacher and parent to a child who seems to never listen can be discouraging, frustrating, and downright incapacitating. How do we turn the tide and teach our children to listen and respond well?
Points to Ponder
Teaching your child to listen might also require teaching yourself to accommodate his listening. Here are some things to consider when you feel like your children aren’t listening to you.
What is Listening?
Sitting still with eyes on you does not automatically equate listening. By the same token, the monkey on the jungle gym (aka dining room table) is not automatically tuning you out. Children listen differently! Instead of assuming that your child isn’t listening, see if they can answer questions about what you’ve just said.
Tone of Voice
Tone of voice can greatly affect listening ears. Have you ever noticed that some people are easier to listen to than others? Think of preachers, teachers, or lecturers you have heard. What makes them hard or easy to listen to? Now, consider how your children hear you. Do you yell, or are you calm and quiet? Do you lecture, or are you interactive?
Consider how your children learn before you decide how to teach or even discipline. Remember how the prophet Nathan got his point across to King David in 2 Samuel 12? He used a story, catching David’s attention immediately. If your children are not listening, change tactics. Explore creative discipline techniques that fit your children’s learning styles.
Be interactive as you talk to or teach your children. Frequently stop to encourage feedback, ask questions, or seek input. When disciplining, encourage your children to share what is on their minds, and be faithful to listen. Even if you have to correct their thought processes, they will at least know that you are listening to them, and they will learn to listen back.
One thing to always keep in mind is that sometimes you need a break. Whether it’s a break from studies or a break from each other, listening falters when tiredness is involved, both on your part and on theirs. So, pull back. Go ahead and take a day off school to just play. Go on a field trip. Plan a play date. Just do something out of the ordinary!
A Few More Thoughts
Believe it or not, nine times out of ten, the problem is less that your children won’t listen and more that their actions are simply leading you to believe they’re not listening! Don’t hesitate to explore creative ways to capture your children’s attention and direct their dynamic personalities to responsive listening.