Rules of Listening
When children are young, they have to be taught listening skills. Some personalities take to this more quickly than others. But if we take the time to teach them good listening skills when they are young, we will save them and ourselves a world of difficulty in later years.
So, how do you teach young children to listen? I break it down to three things:
First, direction. This is easy. In what direction are they looking? If their eyes are on the TV, video game, or coloring book, or even siblings, they are probably not listening. “Eyes on me” is the first rule of listening.
Next, Attention. This one can be more difficult for stronger-willed children. But it is important that children understand that if you do not give your attention to the one speaking, then they are not really able to listen. So, how do you know if you have their attention? Well, one simple way is that they will not be talking. They will not be talking to someone else or even to you. They will have their mouths closed. So, the second rule of listening is added to the first, “Mouth closed, eyes on me.”
Lastly, Recollection. Sometimes a child develops “selective deafness”. My husband and I both have that same ailment at times. “Selective deafness”, of course, means that they only hear what they want to hear. They develop the art of “mouth closed, eyes on me” rules, but they have tuned out whatever you are saying. That is when the third rule of listening comes into to play. Can they recall what you said? Can they repeat it back to you in their own words? Ask them to do this and you will know if they not only heard, but understood what you said, By the way, these three rules of listening work great in the reverse. Make sure you look at your child (or husband, or friend) when you are speaking to them. Make sure you keep your mouth closed while they talk. Make sure you can speak back to them what they said, showing them that you have heard and understand.
Most importantly, we should use these same rules of listening in our relationship with God. Do we listen to Him speak through His Word and through worship? Do we keep our eyes on Him throughout our days, seeking His way and His wisdom? Do we listen in prayer or do we just talk endlessly to Him, directing Him to do what we want Him to do? Finally, can we recall what He says to us? Have we heard, really heard, what He has commanded and are we responsive to what we have heard? Just a little Food for Thought on this Tuesday morning! Blessings!