#2 Be sensitive to your child’s thoughts and feelings. How many times have you tried to enter a conversation and were abruptly ignored or passed over as if you weren’t even there? How did it make you feel? Hurt or insignificant with nothing to contribute? A steady diet of this would clearly influence our opinion of ourselves.
It is the same way with kids. And in a busy household of overbooked schedules and homework and meals to prepare, it takes an intentional effort to take the time required to treat your child’s thoughts and feelings with respect. Remember, the long term goal is to build a relationship.
Our children feel validated as a person when their thoughts and opinions are heard by the ones they desire to please the most; their parents. A child’s view of himself, especially in the early years, is largely dependent on how he thinks you, his parents, really feel about him. No matter how many words of affirmation we say – and we should say them often – our sensitive response to our kids will be the loudest voice speaking to their hearts.
One of the easiest things to say to a child when they express fear, sadness, or disappointment is, “You shouldn’t feel that way.” We think we are teaching them to be tough or to grow up, but this dismissive response from us is really saying, “I don’t want to hear about your feelings.” A child cannot help how they feel. The feelings just come natural to them. They can’t control how they feel. The only thing they can control is how they respond to their feelings. And when we listen graciously to their thoughts and feelings, we open the door to the teaching moments of instructing them how to respond to those feelings in ways that are God-pleasing.
A lot of frustration in our children’s lives can be avoided if we take time to listen. When we see the illogic in their little minds, there is such a strong temptation in our adult minds to immediately correct their thoughts and feelings. And while over time we need to teach and correct, we need to balance that responsibility with a sensitivity to what is going on in their child mind and heart. When we find that balance, the reward at the end of the day will be “rare and beautiful treasures.”