Kid Connection Tip: What Happens When You Listen

Posted June 1, 2015 by jimhigley

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Our babies pop into the world. And what do we do? We do what comes naturally, right? We sing to them. We read books to them. We babble with them and talk to them. Talk, talk, talk. Even though they are incapable of talking back.

And we do this around the clock as we relish in the joy of this new relationship.

Then comes the miraculous day they babble back. “Dada.” “Mama.” Or any number of common first words. Duck. No. Ball. Or Car.

And somewhere in a blink of an eye that little bundle of joy is not just saying the word “car”. They’re actually driving one. Time truly does fly.

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In between those years of diapers and dating, our children morph into little adults. And parents gain an encyclopedia worth of experiences. We change and evolve as our children grow. We learn to let them make choices. We let them have more privileges. We stand in disbelief as we realize they are old enough to go to school. And through all of this, we adapt. We learn.

But for many of us, unfortunately, the one thing we fail to learn is to stop talking so darn much. We continue to talk, talk, talk. Just like we did when they were babies. But the truth is we should stop, stop, stop.

And listen.

A lot.

Someone once told me that we should be listening to our children 80% of the time – and talking only 20% – by the time our kids are tweens. Now I don’t know if those numbers are carved in stone – but they are a good rule of thumb. Trust me, I’ve learned this one. And I’ve also learned that many parents flip-flop those numbers – and not only talk way too much. They lecture ad nauseam.

The result?

Those little kids who used to coo and marvel at the sound of our voice stop talking. They stop because we don’t give the time to talk. They stop because they fear that they will receive a lecture in return. They stop.

So we just talk and lecture more. Crazy, right?

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So if you’re looking for one of the best gifts to give your child, try listening. A lot. In doing so, you’re showing your child that they are a person of value in your life. Hey, you did enough babbling in their early years, so give them a chance. A chance to express ideas. A chance to explore how they express themselves. And parents, don’t be quick to judge. Or lecture.

Doing that is like letting the air out of a balloon.

Listen to your kids. They’ll appreciate the respect. And you’ll be surprised at how much it can improve your relationship with them.

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This memory is part of a series of stories I’m sharing during the months of May and June – highlighting the importance of connecting with our children. These memories are brought to you by the wonderful folks at Kimberly-Clark who have compensated me for my writing. All opinions are my own. 

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