Permit to revisit our first Commandment: Listen Attentively. Listening attentively, I must say is not an end in itself. It is a means to an end. The end is to develop an informal process of eliciting information from our children and use same information for their good and best interest. In most cases, as custodians we do not do a good job in using the information we get from our children for them. We use such against our children.
Now, beyond using same information for their good and best interest, we also want to teach them how to form sound opinions. We also know that if they must form sound opinions, they are likely to begin with not-too-sound opinions or put other way opinions, which are not structured or organised. In most cases our children, depending on their age, present their thoughts in scattered manners. It is our responsibility to help them organise their thoughts without assuming what they are trying to say. We may need to do a lot of encouraging probing to bring out their real thoughts. Please understand that hostile probing do not help our children. I will shed more light on the foregoing when I address understanding children’s style or manner of speaking as a commandment.
Helping them to form opinions does not mean we accept all of their opinions. Custodians do make the mistake of encouraging their children by allowing everything they say to pass, whether it makes sense or not. This does not in any way encourage or build children intellectually or emotionally. Listening to them does not mean we accept everything they say. What we must do therefore is to let them know when we do not accept their opinion on a matter. We should not stop there. We should be interested in the logic, which informed the opinion we do not agree with. This we can achieve through friendly probing. It is not enough for us to find the logic; we must explain to them why we do not agree with their opinions. This will help us to communicate our values to them and teach them to test all logics before they settle for same. When our children express an opinion contrary to what we believe, it is not an opportunity to chastise them. It is an opportunity to engage them.
When we do not accept the opinion of our children after we have listened to them attentively and we do not explain to them why we do not accept their opinions, we attack their self esteem. As custodians, because of the maturity of our minds, we may think we are rejecting their opinions, but our children because of the developing state of their minds see the rejection of their opinion as a rejection of their persons.
In my own opinion, it may be better not to listen to our children than to listen to them, reject their opinion casually, without a dutiful commitment to give reasons for our position in a very comforting manner. Even such practice will not work with an adult. Imagine that you begin a discussion with your spouse or colleague in the office and after you have laid out your opinions, he just goes straight to announce his positions as if both of you have not spoken. I am sure you will not find such attitude funny and you will demand an explanation.
Permit me to round up today by submitting that while we are not obligated to follow the opinions of our children after listening to them attentively, we are obligated to give them some explanation, depending on their level of understanding, whether they demand for such explanation or not.
I think I should sign out here. Thank you for visiting today. Sure you learnt one or two things on how to Think the CHILD…Think TODAY and Think the FUTURE.
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