LISTENING TO OUR CHILDREN - Issue #24
Hello There, dear readers
I hope this edition finds you safe & well?
One of the first things I want to do, is to just send my prayers to the people of Ukraine and other Baltic states for a swift end to the conflict in Ukraine and for Russia to withdraw. I hope they know the whole world is with them, doing what they can.
It’s great to have you here - thanks for keeping the faith and reading the issues every fortnight. And if it’s your first time here, then a double-welcome to you. I hope you like what you read :)
In this issue, I thought I’d take a look at the importance of listening to our children. Not just “listening” with half an ear, as can often be the case with young children, given how hectic life can be with toddlers and school age children. I’m talking about really listening and ensuring that we’re not missing something that is going on. And, I’ll also cover what I learnt as the mother of teenage daughters and when to listen more fully, through to my experience with fully grown adult daughters too and what they can teach us.
BUT AS A DISCLAIMER, I’M AWARE NOT ALL READERS WILL HAVE CHILDREN. FOR THIS I APOLOGISE AND HOPE THAT YOU WILL BEAR WITH ME WHILST I COVER WHAT CAN BE SUCH AN IMPACTFUL PART OF LIFE. THANK YOU
So, for those of you who do have children, let’s take each of stages in order:
TODDLERS & PRIMARY SCHOOL AGE CHILDREN
Dare I say it’s a bit easier to listen to children of this age? I don’t say that lightly, remembering just how hectic it can be getting children to their various out of school activities, often with younger children in tow etc.
But, because of the level of interaction we have with younger children, they are more trusting and even if you don’t “hear” them the first time, it’s been my experience that they will repeat and repeat and repeat until you do listen and digest what they are saying. So, once they’ve got through, and they can “see” that you’ve taken what they said onboard, then you can start to resolve any problem that needs solving.
However, I don’t want to glibly say that problems are easier to solve at this age. But nobody will know their child better than a mother, and sometimes it’s an instinct thing, and the relationship between young child and mother is oftentimes closer. I would hope this means that problems are easier to spot and deal with.
To my mind, this can be one of the roughest parts of a child’s life. Especially so when they are thrust into secondary school, directly from being the oldest in primary school and in their final year, Year 6, although they experience some pressure with their SATS. However, once SATS are out of the way (which is usually late Spring), then a glorious last few weeks of term follow with winding down, being treated that bit more grown up and Sports Day, leaving parties etc.
So, come September of that same year, those poor Year 6’s, who were probably feeling absolutely great about themselves, will now find themselves once more the youngest of what must seem to them a tirade of older children. What must sixth-formers look like to the new entrants?
I think it’s this age we need to listen the hardest. Because your little one is mixing in a much more adult environment, it’s likely they may not be as forthcoming with their worries and you may have to look for other indicators that all is not well.
Again, as I said, mothers know their children best of all and if you think something may not be right, and you may not be able to help, then think about enlisting school or somewhere else for assistance and support. Organisations like Young Minds are there, purely for this reason, and can help with referrals, if needs be
This should be the easiest group of all to deal with. They will have been through some teenage angst, however large or small, which only serves to make them stronger and give them some self confidence. Which will guide them through life’s ups and downs.
However, because it’s likely you don’t have as much contact with this age group - they are likely to be at college or living away from home - the time they do confide in you about their problems is a time when you really must listen.
It’s likely they have spoken about this to this friends - well, if they are girls they will have; I expect boy’s don’t share as much..? So if they are talking to you about things, then it could be quite serious. At least to them. So, give them priority and see if you can offer some wise advice to help them solve their worries. And any practical help that might be required.
One thing about this age though, you need to be careful you aren’t seen as “taking over”. After all, they are fully grown people who deal with their own lives day to day and for you start taking the reigns might undermine their own efforts and capabilities, thereby distancing them from you.
It’s been my experience this can be a very tough call. Many times, I’ve looked back over the years bringing up my daughters, and wished I’d intervened more with bad instances that were happening to either one of them. But, at that time, I probably weighed up the evidence of what I thought was going on, and made a decision. In time, as the situation panned out, it showed me I could have done more, but it meant my child dealt with it using their own resources and it’s likely they are tougher because of it.
ANOTHER DISCLAIMER (Sorry!)
I’m not a therapist or child expert in any way, so if your child is needing extra support please see a health professional asap.
DOLLOP OF POSITIVITY
Just a reminder from me to get the thinking right.
Recently this has been very firmly reinforced on how you need to try and keep in a positive frame of mind, no matter what is happening. Oftentimes that’s easier said than done, but working on yourself and correcting your thinking, bit by bit, can not only change your outlook (and make you feel happier) but it changes your “energy” and hence your outcomes. At least that’s what I’ve found over recent weeks.
Okay, that’s a bit woo-woo, I’ll admit, but gradually research is finding evidence that there is some scientific basis to the “Law of Attraction” etc.
So, isn’t it worth spending a bit of time trying to upscale your thinking, cos even if it doesn’t change your life, at the very least it’ll make you feel better?
So, that’s Epsisode 24 done and dusted. I hope you found something in it that resonated with you.
And, if you know of someone who think might also value the fortnightly outpourings of a mid-life woman trying to get through life as best she can (isn’t that all of us, though?) then please share the love and let them know.
I’ll be back in a fortnight’s time - 22nd March - and look forward to “seeing” you then.
Stay safe, well & strong until in the meantime.