Lend a Patient Ear to Your Child

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Children are never too young for adults to start listening to them and talking to them. Children should be consulted and their views respected. If you don’t make time to listen, there is little hope of other communication, especially as children grow older.

005If you are able to talk and listen to your child, and she is able to talk and listen to you, your relationship can grow into that of mutual understanding, respect and consideration. Good communication helps children and parents express their needs effectively, which in turn will help you both avoid potential problems and untangle those that do arise.

If children learn from an early age to talk to someone, I think it is the foundation of emotional well being. Besides other benefits, it is fun listening to your child. You get to know her as an individual with a unique personality, which may be quite different from yours.

You are aware that as your child grows, good talking and listening skills will be the key to his/ her relationship with you and the rest of the world. Without these, communication channels may begin to close and problems escalate beyond a point of no return. Such problems may be easier to notice when children reach adolescence but most develop their roots early in a child’s life.

Undoubtedly, some skills and approaches will help you encourage your child to talk, but for any of them to be effective, your child has to believe that you want to listen to what she has to say. It is so important to be emotionally available for your children, and by that I mean being around in a peaceful and responsive way. You can be certain that the most important piece of information comes when you least expect it; not when you `schedule’ a talk. Making time to talk is important, but don’t expect this to be at your convenience. Your child is too young to understand the varied demands on a parent’s time. Try to keep your `antenna’ up for any signals that indicate that your child wants to talk, and dear parents, please listen!

To listen is the capacity to simply give your undivided attention. There are many things we cannot take responsibility for in this world, but the one thing we can be responsible for, is the quality of our presence for our children. Once we understand this, we can be still and we can listen. There is a wonderful Chinese proverb that says, `When my heart is at peace, the world is at peace.’ This comes through opening our hearts to very deep levels of compassion, acceptance, forgiveness and understanding. It is in these moments of contact that we build inner harmony and strengthen the bonds of love.

Dr Shayama Chona, an academic, was born in Shimla on August 12, 1942. She is the former Principal of Delhi Public School, R K Puram, New Delhi; Founder President of Tamana (NGO for physically & mentally handicapped children); Founder of Anubhav Shiksha Kendra (a school for the underprivileged); she has been a member of 96 Advisory Boards and Committees; she has been nominated to Managing Committees of 46 schools and other educational institutions; she has been named in the Limca Book of Records 2007. She has been awarded the State Award for Services in Education 1993, National Award for Services as a Teacher of Outstanding Merit 1994, National Award for Outstanding Performance for Welfare of People with Disabilities 1997, Padma Shri 1999, Padma Bhushan 2008, and 49 other awards. She lives at C10/8, Vasant Vihar, New Delhi-110057. Email: shayamachona@gmail.com, tamanapresident@gmail.com