Children can often be the best listeners, we don’t give them enough credit. Often when our children act out, we are often too quick to react and exert our parental dominance over their child-strong will. Listening gets tossed aside for noise, and nothing gets learned.
Recently my 10-year-old son and I had a rather deep conversation about an over-reaction that he had concerning his use of an iPod when he takes showers. We can hear the thing belting out YouTube videos while he is taking 1/2 hour long showers. Sick of wasting copious amounts of hot water, we banned our son from taking his iPod into the shower. There is just no need to have it in there.
His reaction to the news was not ideal. His tone was deep, and his defiance was sharp as he proclaimed that he was taking his iPod in the shower regardless of our wishes.
Our parental reaction to his defiance was not ideal, and while we had the right ideal to leave things to simmer down after our meltdown to his proclamation, nothing really got solved.
“Be a good listener. Your ears will never get you in trouble.” – Frank Tyger
About an hour later, I decided to try to reason with him from a different angle. I wanted to listen and hear him out without any judgement or interjection of my parental ego.
After hearing him out, I learned that he didn’t really know or understand why he acted out so angrily. He was confused as to why he was so defiant towards us. We dug around a little more, and I also learned that he needed to have the iPod in the shower because he was scared of a quiet bathroom when he takes his showers. He was fearful that someone would sneak into the bathroom but by having the iPod on, he didn’t have that fear.
This was my chance. I listened to him, and now I have his attention.
It was then I suggested that perhaps he is a little bit addicted to his iPod. That his inside brain was telling him lies (the fear of someone entering the bathroom while he showered) so that it could listen to Youtube. I explained to him that his inside brain doesn’t have arms and legs to do the things that it wants to do, it needs him to do the work for it; by creating fear, it makes him move.
After about a half hour of talking back and forth, I could tell he understood what it meant to have a conscience. To have an inner voice. And that knowing when to listen to that inner voice and knowing when not to listen to it is the key to having balance.
A lot came from that little interaction. All of it likely would have never happened if I did not use my ears instead of my inner brain to do all of the hearing. I went into the conversation seeing a defiant and spoiled little kid and came out learning that he is just as confused and afraid as the rest of us when we allow our inner brain to do all of the talking.
Who created this quote?
Brooklyn-born, Frank Tyger spent most of his career at the Trenton (NJ) Times (known today as the Times of Trenton). At the paper Frank wore many hats including editorial cartoonist, humorist, columnist and Promotion Manager, earning him the nickname of “Mr. Times” amongst his colleagues and the Trenton community.