A Tik Tok video I happened to come upon, that I found heartbreakingly endearing, featured children no older than four or five, watching their favourite program on TV. A parent walked in and stretched out beside the child. Instantly, the child’s focus shifted to the parent, and the TV program was completely forgotten. So consumed with love was the child that he could not stop hugging the parent close. At no time did he glance at the TV screen. What I could see unfold before my eyes was the proof that the magnetism of human connection surpasses all other attractions/interests, and the fact that the electronic medium is but a cold substitute for a warm, shared human experience.
The adult is perhaps the most important learning resource a child will ever have. The question is, how many of us are able to use this resource effectively? Have you seen households where a parent is habitually checking the phone while he is spending time with the child? Physically, very present. Period. Clearly, the parent’s engagement lies in checking a message, a newsflash, a social media post, maybe even work.... just about anything. This preoccupation leads him to give half hearted responses to the child - a mechanical ‘Hmmm’ or ‘Oh Ok’, an occasional ‘Why’ or ‘Oh really’.
The child can instantly sense the disconnect.
Being present is being in the same zone as the child. Listening with complete intent and attention. What kind of listeners are we? Out of the five levels of listening which can be found on many platforms, a lot of us cannot even claim to be 'Attentive' listeners. Listening to children needs patience, needs getting into the same dimension as the child’s thought process, and to adequately respond.
Levels of Listening
No energy is expended to actually listen. People need to repeat themselves and draw your attention to what they are trying to convey to you.
You give the impression that you are listening but in reality, there is little registering of content.
You choose snippets of the conversation and start processing a comeback.
Involves lots of eye contact, understanding of content, remaining engaged. You absorb everything being said.
Requires the whole body focus- physical, and mental energies to come together to be in the same frame as the other person’s thinking.
Many times messages are hidden behind a child’s bearing. Feelings of jealousy, anger, frustration, anxiety, fear, could all manifest themselves in his behaviour. When we listen with empathy we notice the body language, discern issues of concern, comprehend the meaning behind words being shared. Through our attention we convey understanding, we convey compassion, we convey sensitivity. And it isn't even just that. Just sharing funny, silly, thoughtful exchanges, wins us the faith, the trust, the confidence of the child.
I am not saying here that an adult needs to remain wired constantly, to solemnly listen to the child. That is not even humanly possible. What I mean is that, there are so many opportunities that present themselves during the course of our time with the child that we lose, just because we remain preoccupied with something else.
I have heard a child once say: " I like Mrs.X ( his teacher). She always listens with her eyes." Tells us something, doesn't it?
“Learn to listen” says an Anonymous quote, "for opportunity sometimes knocks very softly.”