True listening — Kids need our listening Love

Photo by Ricardo Moura on Unsplash

Inspiration for this article — Book: The Road Less Travelled by M. Scott Peck

One of the sections in the book is dedicated to the subject of Love and Scott’s interpretation of it. I am a father of a beautiful 8-year girl child. Like all the kids, she needs my attention and I try my best to allow her that. Still, there are times when consciously or unconsciously, I deny her my full attention. While discussing Love, Scott has summarized his interpretation of our love towards our kids and one of the topics he touched upon is “Listening” to our kids.

It made me think hard and analyze my ways of dealing with mine and other kids. Our kids are a constant chatter. So what are we doing currently? What’re our ways of listening?

Types of listening

  • Second. Allow the chatter but simply not listen to them. So, the child is talking in thin air and for you, it becomes just a background noise that might annoy you or might not.
  • Third. Pretend. Just pretend you are listening to them and keep doing what you are interested in. Remember those “unh hun”, those “that’s so nice”, those “Wow”? That’s what we are talking about. Just keep talking to them in monologue and both of you will be happy (You think so!)
  • Fourth. Selective listening. It’s like an alert form of the pretend version. So if your child is talking something significant, you listen else back to monologues. It’s like separating the wheat from the chaff. The challenge here is that your mind is not completely capable of this separation and so some piece of important things go missing.
  • Fifth and final. True listening. Give them your full and complete attention, weigh each word and understand each sentence. Let them know you are interested, see in their eyes, smile with them, your eyes showing that glitter. This type of listening needs maximum energy and effort.

So is Scott suggesting to always use the fifth approach?

No. I agree with his approach of using the approaches as and when required.

Kids are full of energy and they have so much to talk, so giving them your full attention all the time will leave you dry and drained. Plus it might become boring, because the fact of the matter is that after a while, their chatter can become boring.

Mixed approach

Challenges

As parents, you are unwilling or unable to strike this balance and offer the energy required for true listening. You think that you are listening but actually either you are just pretending or doing selective listening. This is self-deception. Your laziness.

For true listening, put all your effort. It will need tremendous effort to achieve this kind of listening. (1) It needs your total concentration. Put aside everything else and devote your time to your kid; (2) Since, your kid’s speech patterns are uneven, it’s more difficult to concentrate. What you need in this case is extreme love to keep you motivated for a true listening episode.

But why do it at all?

One, it’s possibly the best way to give your child a sense of esteem. The sense that they are valuable!

Two, make them feel valuable and soon they will say more valuable things. They are going to rise to your expectations.

Three, as you will concentrate, you will realize it for yourself that what you were assuming to be just chatter is actually not. They already are talking sense, they already are talking valuable things, they already have risen to your expectations. The more you will do true listening, the more you will realize that the kid is extraordinary.

Four, true listening will help you understand your kid better. So? That means you can teach them better! The more you understand them the appropriate teaching you can impart. That will help them become more eager to learn from you.

See, there is a cycle to it. The cycle just needs a start! Listen!!

Younger ones, Older ones, Adolescent children, they all have different needs to be listened. Some true listening, some attention, some curiosity, some “unh huns”.

LOVE

Bonus

Note: The book has inspired me to be more attentive towards my interactions with kids. The above article is a mix of my interpretation and the excerpts from the book. This article is not a review of this book. This is an attempt to share this specific insight and this specific perspective of “True Listening”.

Few accolades for the book.

“The ultimate self-help manual….a word-of-mouth sensation” — Daily Telegraph

“The granddaddy of self-help manuals and among the wiser o them” — The Times

“His defining work…its impact has been huge” — Guardian

I hope you had a “True Reading”!

If you liked this article, I would request you to kindly hit the 👏 button as many times as you can, so that more people like you can read it. Also, please share this article with your loved ones and hopefully, they can be more conscious towards their kids and spouses. True listening is not tough, it needs a small correction in our style. Lives can be improved with small efforts. Efforts! Take them.

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Nishith Goyal

Author of two books, Creator - Be Better Bit-By-Bit, Long-distance runner, and a keen diarist.