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It is easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life and forget that sometimes our children feel left behind. They don’t feel heard! When you take the important step of investing in your relationship with them, they are more likely to feel loved and that you are really listening. And when our children feel heard and loved, they are more likely to talk with you and share their thoughts, feelings, and frustrations.
This becomes even more important when your children are teenagers and they face more challenging situations. As they mature, we loose the ability to control their environment and their responses to situations. Our goal changes from control to that of influence. By making sure they feel loved, we increase the likelihood they will seek our influence in their lives.
The suggestions below are some of the ways I try to make sure my children know I care and am listening to what they have to say. Included in this list are suggestions from my thirteen-year-old daughter.
- Do not interrupt when they are speaking! (Easier said than done!)
- Speak their love language. (If you don’t know your child’s love language, you might find the books The 5 Love Languages of Children and The 5 Love Languages of Teenagers helpful.)
- Get on their level. Kneel or bend down if needed so you can look them in the eye.
- Give them your full attention when they talk to you. Put down whatever you are doing, close your laptop lid, or turn away from the computer or television.
- Let them know if you have felt the same way they are feeling when they are facing a difficult situation. Do this sparingly though.
- Have special events or rituals to look forward to such as a special bedtime routine, a yearly fondue night, or seasonal activities like balloon volleyball or putting together puzzles during the winter.
- Have a secret signal such as the sign language “I love you.” sign or gently pulling on your ear as Lucille Ball did with her daughter.
- Practice empathic listening. (Watch the video below to learn more.)
Do you have other suggestions? I’d love to hear how you connect with your children and help them feel heard.