THE IMPORTANCE OF LISTENING
You guys, I don’t know about your household, but as much as I dream about it being quiet and orderly and my children being perfect and the laundry and dishes being miraculously put away, my house is none of those things. I’m working at the studio in the mornings, we’re then rushing to activities, play dates and errands in the afternoons and then there’s dinner to be made and chores to be done. My house is loud and noisy and far from perfect. I have 2 children who absolutely LOVE to talk and share stories, the music is always playing, there’s always some sort of recycling, up cycling science and craft project on my floors and the dogs are almost always under foot! It’s chaotic and crazy and filled with love and childhood memories.
However, I recently started noticing that my children try to compete for my attention and more than often than not, I am not fully present and engaged in what they are trying to say. This makes them talk even louder and over each other. It’s who gets to go first and the loudest one get heard. And as much as I want to listen to them individually and attentively (they always have a LOT to say), I usually tune them out and I’m distracted. Which means I find myself caught in the sibling crossfire and there is a lot of whining and complaining about who didn’t get to go first or finish their story before being “rudely” interrupted by the other! Sound familiar? Please tell me it’s not just me!
Let’s face it, how many times this week (or even today) have you caught yourself not listening to your kids? I mean; REALLY listening to what they have to say and how they feel? I’d be the first one to admit I’m guilty to this several times a day. Unfortunately it seems to me we are doing this more and more often. Distracted, on our phones, multi tasking in our heads, just simply not present. So how can we expect our children to listen to us if we don’t listen to them?
THE TALKING STICK
One day after immense mommy guilt (yes it’s a real thing) I realized that the problem lay as a direct consequence of my listening for them vs. something they were doing. I realized that in order for everyone to feel heard and validated, I would have to make some serious changes in our household. I have been practicing mindfulness personally for a few months now, and recently read about the Talking Stick. This is certainly not something I came up with. It’s origin lies in aboriginal democracy and was used by many tribes, especially those of indigenous peoples of the Northwest Coast in North America. The idea of the talking stick is simple. The Talking Stick is passed from person to person as they speak and only the person holding the stick is allowed to talk during that time period. Everyone else is respectful and engaged while the other person shares. You then pass the stick on to the other members of the family and they get to share their story.
“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” —Stephen R. Covey
The idea behind it is that we are kind, calm, mindful and thoughtful to one another while also being fully present to the people we love the most. Doesn’t that sound brilliant! Such a simple concept, but definitely one that will take some reconditioning of one’s environment. I invite you to create your very own talking stick at home with your kiddos or come join us over Open Studio at La Dee Da and make your own! Have fun and remember to listen to each other. Let’s forget about all distractions and take the time to really listen to our kids today! One day not so far off, our kiddos are going to be teenagers and we’re only going to get responses in monosyllables!