Little Jerome was tagging along with his mom on a mission. “Mom, I can have this?” he pleaded. They were in the cereal aisle, and mom was comparing the labels of generic raisin bran and the brand name equivalent. Jerome was pointing at the Fruit Loops a few feet away.
Mom glanced at him for a brief second, proclaiming “No, hon,” and then continued her label analysis.
Jerome got louder. “Mom! I want Fruit Loops. We never get Fruit Loops!”
Mom grew visibly irritated, as if she knew where this might head if she didn’t quickly nip it in the bud. “Jerome, you know we are not getting Fruit Loops. Now put those back and get over here.” Jerome was hesitant. “You listen to me young man!” She was firm. “Do I need to put you in the cart?” Jerome held the box close to his chest. Mom set the bran down and, as if she knew she had an audience, huffed, “Why doesn’t this kid ever listen?” She took the Fruit Loops from frowning Jerome, lifted him into the cart, grabbed a couple of the bran boxes and scurried away.
As she rounded the corner I silently answered her question. “Your kid doesn’t listen because you don’t listen to him.”
Here’s how mom could have showed she was listening: “Jerome, I see you really want to get some Fruit Loops. What do you love about them?” Jerome would probably say he likes the taste and the colors and the prize inside. Mom might then say, “Show me your favorite picture on the box.” He’d take a little time to show mom things as she affirms what he’s showing her. “That’s cool Jerome. I can see you like the brightest colors the most. But that is not a cereal we’re going to buy today because the sugar in it doesn’t help your brain and muscles grow strong.” Jerome would likely complain. “It’s really sad when you don’t get what you want, isn’t it? C’mon over here to the cart and tell me why we’re not getting the cereal.” Jerome would sadly repeat it and mom would say, “You listened really well even though you’re sad. If you want, you can tell me more about your sad feelings while we keep shopping.” Or maybe she’d give a high five for the listening and just grab the raisin bran and keep moving.
These are just ideas. Jerome may respond differently. It could have gone a thousand different directions. But the point is that if mom worked to teach listening instead of just demanding it, Jerome would learn more about listening. When kids are heard, even if they don’t get what they want, they feel valued. When they feel valued over time, they learn to listen too.
If you want your kids to listen well to you, show them what being a good listener is all about by being a good listener to them.
Want help implementing these principles with your family? Check out our coaching options!
Sign up below to receive a weekly dose of encouragement straight to your inbox: