Just the other day, I was on a bus and this little girl was trying her hardest to tell her mom about something exciting she had seen on her way to school. I was quite enjoying her excited chatter, and was very interested in what she had to say. But as she got around to explaining herself, she got distracted by someone who had passed by and her focus shifted in an instant.
To me, it was amusing and very cute how she was into her story and the next minute gave that same energy and zeal to a stranger. Her mother, on the other hand, was irritated. She snapped at the kid and made her shut up.
In my opinion, it was unnecessary and by the looks of it, my little friend was absolutely crushed that her mom didn’t want to hear her story. So, I did what I felt best: I turned around and said, “Hey, I was listening to you about your adventure… tell me more.” With that, her face brightened up instantly and she blushed and smiled and continued on with her story. To be honest, I had no idea what she was actually talking about, but she was so into what she was saying that I gave her my full attention. After a minute her mother says, “Okay, okay, enough
with the verbal diarrhea” and once again the child goes mute.
That experience was disheartening. Mostly because when I was younger, I probably had verbal diarrhea too, and that wasn’t my fault. I was very observant and I enjoyed talking about things that I saw and asking questions about things I did not understand. But just like the girl’s mother, numerous people swooped in and shut me up. They didn’t care about what I had to say or how I felt. To be well behaved meant to be quiet and that wasn’t me
and apparently that’s not a lot of small children.However, after being shut up for a long period of time, what you want to say doesn’t seem as important. Eventually, you figure that you can’t speak to anybody about how you feel or what you think because nobody wants to listen. So you fall into quietness, speaking only when spoken to, speaking only when in school, but only to people who want to have a conversation with you. Then at home, fall into silence one again because at home your opinion seems unwanted.
Soon enough, your speech becomes so limited that you start to dislike the sound of your own voice. You no longer want share your problems, concerns or interests because you feel like no one cares. In today’s world, it is absolutely important to understand the persons around you. As a parent, it is even more important to make a special effort to listen to your children and help them cultivate their opinions. Let them know that it is okay to talk to you, and that you’ll always be there to listen.
Once you’ve lost your voice, it takes a very long time to find it and forever to remove the bitter taste for all those who refused to listen and replace it with indifference and even longer to appreciate your thoughts and to seek no validation from anybody to determine their value.
Sad thing is; many kids aren’t able to do that. From such a small age we’re taught that what we think holds no value. It’s what our parents say or the highway. Yet, every little person I’ve met has had an opinion. They have their own feelings and their own problems. Yes, kids have problems, because life is full of it. We really need to stop telling them how to feel. If something makes them sad and they want to cry about it, let them cry. I mean, don’t we have enough angry adults moping around harboring childhood ill-feelings that they’ve never had the chance to express? Don’t we have enough adults who can’t express themselves properly? If we continue to shut our children up, they won’t communicate when we want them to.
By the time they’re teens, a lot of them will be long gone. So far gone, that they’ll be unrecognizable. Then you’ll justify your actions by giving a list of all that you have provided for them and backing that up with claims of how ungrateful they are for reacting the way that they have. Of course, you’ll take no responsibility as a contributor to your child’s negative behavior and slowly but surely, there will be an ocean of ill-feelings and unspoken words between you.
Word of advice, the most valuable thing you can give your child is time, not clothes or gadgets or money, but quality time. Just 15 minutes to 1 hour a day, with uninterrupted down time with your child can make a world of a difference. Not talking about anything stressful like homework and chores but about things that matter to them.
After school is over, and your child tries to talk to you, do you react in the same harsh disconnected way that your parents did? Or are you trying something different? Are you brushing away their feelings or are you embracing them and helping them to understand how they feel about a particular situation?
Yes, there must be discipline, and the plight of parenting isn’t an easy one, but it is necessary to take the steps needed to ensure that all of your child’s needs are met: physical, psychological, social and emotional. To be a proper, well rounded, functioning adult they need to know that you love them, and letting the TV be your babysitter, and ignoring their need for affection, self -actualization and respect is certainly the wrong way to go about it.