Children want to be heard, and they want to feel valued by the adults in their lives. Each day in the hubbub of Colorado Academy Lower School life, I try to converse with students. I try to do more than simply say “hello” and “how are you?” However, those types of quick conversations do occur frequently in a day for me. In the conversations, I attempt to exchange ideas and get to know each student on a more personal level. These conversations take time and effort. With each conversation, I learn something new about the student and feel connected to them in a new way.
As an adult in the hustle and bustle of life, it becomes easy to speak “at” a child instead of speaking “with” a child. Stop for a moment and think about the actual conversations that you have with your child each day. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What do you and your child talk about?
- When and where do you talk?
- Do you use clear, age-appropriate language?
- Do the conversations have a positive or negative tone?
- How much time do you actually converse with your child each day—not providing directions or re-directions?
- What do you consider to be a valuable conversation with your child?
It does take effort and a conscious attempt to slow down and actually have a meaningful exchange. There are so many different things competing for a person’s time each day. Try to carve out at least ten minutes a day that you and your child can talk. The topics may range from reviewing the school day to discussing a social issue, planning a special activity, or solving a problem.
Many times, we do not realize that the small amount of time that we take to talk with and listen to a child is the most valuable part of their day. And, it may just be what the child needed to hear that day or be helpful in the future for them.