(Previously posted on my kidmin blog NewChapter: 14 Sep 2015)
(Yep... and affiliate links are included which means, if you buy through me, I get some coffee money ... though not enough for the raisin toast as well. Full disclosure listed below.)
Some of my little grandkids were outside chasing each other with water guns and squirters. What fun! What better way to handle the summer heat. I watched, sipping my coffee and laughing at the squeals of delight. So I was surprised when a soft, warm arm slipped around my neck.
"Nan," she said softly. "Sometimes I get in trouble cos the others say I'm not sharing. I try. But the others always want what I'm doing."
I put my arm around her for a big hug. "I know. I've been watching. You do a great job with all the little ones. But you're the biggest. They want to copy you.. they want to do exactly what you're doing even though they're not as big as you. It's not easy. Try and be patient with them. Just remember.. I'm very proud of you. I think you're doing a great job of looking after and playing well with your cousins."
She hugged me tight and I could feel her damp eyelashes flutter against my face.
"Thanks Nan," she whispered.. and then she was gone.
Wondering whether you're making a difference in your grandchildren's lives? Searching for meaningful ways to create memories- a family legacy? Looking for amazing and fun ideas that will connect with today's kids? Sure, exciting games, toys and educational activities that teach and develop kids are important. And yes, being a part of special family events is great. And kids love trips to the beach or playground, or any outdoor fun that develops their gross motor skills (and uses up some of their boundless energy!) Ahhh... I feel tired just thinking about it!
But there's something that kids are desperately seeking.... and you can provide the answer.
Kids are looking for someone who cares about them, who supports and encourages them regardless of what they say and do and .... yes, listens to them- really listens. Not 'parenting them.. not training them.. not correcting them... just listening. Are you that person?
Are you a caring listener for your grandkids?
Today’s rapidly changing technology has produced an immense focus on online connection. We're obsessed with knowing instantly the latest news, updates and trends available on our sophisticated devices. But there’s a downside to all of the gadgetry—unprecedented distraction. Some of today’s biggest diversions come in these tiny packages: smartphones, tablets, mobile gaming devices. As a world, we’ve never been more connected —or farther apart.
But what does this mean for your grandkids and your family, especially the quiet, introverted ones?
When parents and other adults are constantly linked to email or Facebook, how much is left to connect and listen to your children? Hey.. no judgement. It's a major connection and communication channel for all of us.
But, in the busyness of life and the distractions of the ever-present mobile devices, parents frequently just tune out when the kids are talking. And sometimes it seems like they're always talking, doesn't it? When you're tired or focused on other tasks, it's easy to just make the noises that sound like you're listening, but your mind is far away. We've all done it.
But children need to know that someone is ready to listen to them. In fact, there are plenty of benefits for kids of someone active listening to them, things like: helping them feel valued, connected, validated and understood; building trust; helping them clarify their thoughts and feelings; helping them avoid conflict and misunderstandings.
Listening well to anyone is important and even more so for children. It means being willing to turn the television off, forgetting Facebook until later or ignoring the latest email notification to focus on a child.
It reminds me of a recent ad campaign. See below:
So.. how can you listen well? What skills do you need that will encourage your grandkids to feel comfortable discussing anything, their worries, fears, struggles or achievements, with you?
Guidelines for Good Listening Skills:
1. Be interested and attentive. Children can tell whether they have your attention by how you reply or, for that matter, don't reply. It involves looking at the speaker; getting down on eye level so that you can maintain eye-contact.
2. Encourage talking. Some children need an invitation to start talking. Children are more likely to share their ideas and feelings when others think them important. Ask questions to clarify all that they are saying and to draw them out. Quiet, introverted kids are often overlooked. Encourage your grandchild to talk away from anyone else so that they don't feel intimidated.
3. Listen patiently. People think faster than they speak. Children often take longer than adults to find the right word. Listen as though you have plenty of time. Don't correct their grammar or use of language. When you listen to children, patience is a virtue.
4. Hear children out. Avoid cutting them off before they have finished speaking. It is easy to form an opinion or reject children's views before they finish what they have to say. It may be difficult to listen respectfully and not correct misconceptions but respect their right to have and express their opinions. Reflect back your understanding of what's been said so that you are clear of what's been said. It also demonstrates your desire to fully understand them.
5. Listen to non-verbal messages. Many messages children send are communicated non-verbally by their tone of voice, their facial expressions, their energy level, their posture, or changes in their behaviour patterns. You can often tell more from the way a child says something than from what is said. When a child comes in obviously upset, be sure to find a quiet time then or sometime later, to sit down with them and listen.. Good listening will often reduce tension and solve problems.
GIFTS FOR GRANDPARENTS...
When your grandkids know that you are ready to listen to them, and listen attentively so that you understand just how they feel and without passing judgement, they will be more likely to talk to you, express themselves and seek your views in the future.
Remember, good listeners listen with their heart, and isn't this what God would expect of us? What better way to show God's love to our grandkids (and our kids as well) than to take time to listen attentively?
Disclosure: At Grandma's Place is committed to high standards of integrity and quality. I do not promote any brand I do not believe meets these standards, and I only promote brands I would purchase myself. If I don't love it, and don't think you'll love it, it won't appear on my blog.
Life as a grandma.. it's no 'quiet, restful days in the rocking-chair'. It's filled with activity, excitement and lots of family fun. Please share it with me.