I love to people watch. Recently, I took the dog for a walk through our local park and stopped and sat under a tree near the playground. Two mothers sat together on a bench and talked as their kids explored the jungle gym. A little girl approached her mom and tapped her on the hand repeatedly chanting “Mommy, Mommy, Mommy!” (It reminded me of The Big Bang Theory when Sheldon knocks on Penny’s door!) The mother put her hand on her daughter to stop the tapping and continued to talk to her friend. The little girl joined her friends on the climber, but returned to her mother a few minutes later. ”Mommy!” she said once in a louder voice. When her mom continued to talk to her friend, the little girl climbed up on the bench, put her hands on both sides of Mom’s cheeks and physically turned her head so she was looking directly into the girls eyes. “I- have- to- pee!” she said, pausing between each word. “Oh” mother exclaimed. “Why didn’t you say something earlier?” They ran off to the bathroom with the little girl explaining that she did try but “you weren’t listening”. Intuitively, this little girl knew that when her mother looked at her, she had her attention.
Using a listening body including: brain is thinking, eyes on the speaker and body is calm, helps the speaker confirm that their message is being received. Listening is a form of respect. Parents may need to take the time to explain why each component of a listening body is important.
More importantly, parents can teach the importance of listening by modeling it to their children.
How do you feel when someone doesn’t show you a listening body? Are your expectations the same for children and adults?