I have just returned from Shine, the beauty salon in Stroud where I get my nails done. I had an extra appointment today because a couple of my nails had chipped. Today Freya, my beauty therapist, and I commented on how long a minute seemed to take when you are waiting for it to pass!
As I drove home the conversation with Freya reminded me what I used to do as a detention ‘punishment’ when I was a teacher. I would make the child on detention sit at their desk and do nothing! Can you imagine how long 30 minutes would seem if all you could do was sit? Now to be honest if someone gifted me an extra 30 minutes now and told me to sit on a chair and not move it would be a pleasure. I would simply close my eyes and meditate but neither I nor the children thought about that all those years ago.
Time is such a precious commodity. It is the something we never seem to have enough of and yet everyone of us is gifted 24 hours every day. That is 1440 minutes to play with every day. The only catch is that we cannot carry any of those minutes over into the next day. If we don’t use them we lose them.
Many people spend their days competing with time, rushing from one job to another and never taking a moment to breath. For busy parents the time from dropping your children at school to picking them up again seems to go in the blink of an aye. I am sure you know the feeling. You get in the car in the afternoon to go and pick the children up and feel like you have only just got out of it after dropping them off that morning!! It is a race every day to do as much as possible between 9 and 3 which often does not allow time for lunch.
Now ironically Time is one of the most precious gifts that you can give to your children. I don’t mean time when you are physically with them but mentally some where else. I mean time when you stop doing anything else and focus on them. Time when you listen to them actively.
To Listen Actively you need to
- clear your mind and focus on your child
- not judge what they are saying
- let go of your own stories
As a teacher I learned very early on the benefits both to me and the child when I listened actively. When you clear your own agenda you really start to hear what your child is saying to you. Of course a lot of the time what they are saying is not earth shattering. It will be small in the overall scheme of things but the cumulative effect of what you are doing is huge.
Over time your child will learn that they can come to you and tell you anything and you will listen. It doesn’t take children long to work out who will listen to them. And once they work that out they will seek you out to tell you their news. Good or bad, big or small they will come to you.
When you focus on your child totally you are in the moment with them and they feel it. Subconsciously what you are saying to your child by taking the time to listen actively is:-
You are valuable to me
What you are saying matters to me
In effect you are teaching your child that they have a voice and that is a powerful skill for them to have no matter what they want to do with their life.
Over the next week say yes to actively listening every time your child wants to talk to you. Keep a listening journal and note down anything you learn about your child and any consequences of taking this time to listen. Then please share your thoughts about the experience for you and your child