Summer is the best time of year to slow down and really take a good, long, loving look at your child, your relationship and their future. To do so you will need to immerse yourself in their world and figure out what is transpiring in their head as they process life. Here are four ways you can add depth to your perception of your child…
How often do we hear or see things that we really don’t think about. This is so easy to do with the distractions of our culture. I have been guilty of being so engrossed in my computer that I did not even look up when my daughter came home, tears running down her face as she ran up the stairs. I missed a huge opportunity to discuss deeply hurt feelings from the heart of my child. I was not thinking.
We should question our kids. This does not mean interrogate, but it does mean that every day we should take an interest in our children’s lives. It is the only way to really know what is going on in their hearts and minds. The earlier you start questioning, the more accepted and natural your questions will be to your children. If you wait till they are older to start engaging, they may be a little guarded. But it is never too late. Just start floating questions out there:
“Who do you like to eat lunch with?”
“Which of your friends is the funniest?”
“Who is the kindest?”
“If you had to go to work today, what would you want to do?”
“What is the biggest mistake you ever saw someone make?”
Then try to catch an answer. Sometimes you will not get one. I have heard “I don’t know” hundreds of times. Just keep floating questions and developing the best approach for each child. iMOM has hundreds of free printable TALK cards with questions on every topic. Cut them up; put them beside your child’s bed (they don’t really want to go to sleep, so they will talk to put it off) or in a jar on the dinner table and make it a tradition to talk. See Resources page 231.
It really helps to remember that you are listening with the purpose of trying to understand your child. Your listening should be processing but not necessarily forming a response for your child. I am not very good at just listening without processing solutions.
I became acutely aware of this from Emily, my most expressive and affectionate child. Emily likes to express every emotion and drama of the day. Of course, I like to respond with lots of instruction about how she should have handled the situation and what the outcome could have been had she followed my instructions.
This scenario was playing out quite a bit in her sixth-grade year due to some girl drama with her little group of friends. Finally, after about three such situations in one week, she covered my mouth, mid-sentence, with her hand, burst into tears, and said, “Mom, please stop telling me what to do. I just want you to listen and hold me!”
If you offer solutions without waiting patiently to see what else may be forthcoming, you can miss out on really good information that may change your ideas. A child, especially an older one, may shut down if you start offering your opinion without all the facts. We will see that Nehemiah was a calculatedly patient man.
In my experience you have to wait more often with boys than with girls. My girls are never worn out from my questions and delight in explaining every detail of their day. With the boys I have to be much more strategic. I have to gauge where they are that day on the “chatometer.” Then if they run out of words, I just have to be quiet and patiently wait for another opportunity.
What are some ways you’ve added depth to your perception of your child?
This post is an excerpt from The Passionate Mom.