How Listening Can Change It All

Our kids tell us what they need. When they're babies we learn their cries. We hear them and know they must need to be changed, they're hungry, or tired. At some point along the way we stop listening to what our kids are telling us that they need. Assuming we know better because well they're just a kid how do they know what they need.

We start to believe that they're just making excuses because they don't want to do x, y, z. It's cold outside, I'm cold, so that means they're definitely cold. When really how do we know if they feel cold or hungry or tired. Sure, there are times when we might be able to follow some obvious visual cues but what about when those are absent. Our kids tell us what they need. Yes, I know I said that already but it needs repeating because often our kids tell us what they need and when they need it especially if we have created safe environments where they are allowed to express their thoughts, opinions, and feelings. It's amazing what happens when we truly start not just hearing but actually listening to our kids and adjusting accordingly.

Yesterday, after going rounds of "do I have to do more math problems. I already did that row, can I be done now", he said, "mom, I just have a hard time staying focused." When all of this started up my knee jerk response was "ugh, you literally have 4 questions left, you're doing a great job, if you just focus and finish you'll be done in no time. All this chatter about not wanting to do it is just a waste of time." After a few minutes of this I took a second and really thought about what he was telling me. He wasn't just saying I don't want to do it. He was telling me he has a hard time answering the questions because he was having a hard time concentrating. Ding! Ding! The problem was he doesn't want to and can't BECAUSE he was having a hard time focusing. So, the problem that needs a solution isn't getting the math problems done it's finding ways to help him to focus better on the task(s) at hand in order to get the math problems done. Because him actually answering the math questions was never the problem. 

So maybe I need to try giving him one problem at a time, offer to write the answers down for him, let him go outside and draw the answer with chalk, have him answer a problem and then do some jumping jacks. All the solutions and options are there just waiting to be tried. I just have to be willing to suggest the solutions and see if that resolves the issue. And guess what today we tried some different things and he got a load of problems done with minimal issues.

This is just one of the many examples of how our kids will tell us what they need if we actually listen. Have an unmotivated kids, feel like all they want is to be on screens, or maybe they don't want to read. Whatever it is, talk about it, ask questions, and then listen, adjust and try some things and see what happens.

It sounds simple because it is. But if it's so simple then how and why do I tend to over complicate it. Why do we assign meaning when it's not our job, how do we switch up the programing and fight the thing that tells us we know best or we don't know how to fix it or help. When really if we just started listening to what our kids are telling us what amazing things they could accomplish!

It might be simple but it isn't easy and at times the solutions may be a little harder to get to but they're there waiting for us to hear and try them. And we only get better at listening by listening. I think often there is this idea that making changes is this dramatic event when really it's just consistent change over time, little by little, moment by moment. Small changes which are built into a massive change over time.