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The Lesson Plan

LISTEN…Like a Worried Mom, or a Politician?

Gwynetta Gittens, GwynEducation, LLC July 2023
Listen…! What are we listening for, the answer to…” How Are You?” It can be asked in several different ways and have different outcomes. At a recent event with a group of about 12 high school students, I asked, how are you doing, and do you talk with your parents often? Some answers were “yes, but they don’t listen!” Or “I can’t really say what I think, I’ll get yelled at for being disrespectful.” “They want me to do better than they did and that’s a lot of pressure.”
When you ask someone “How are you?” do you wait for the answer? Keep track one day, how many times you say, “How are you?” and how many times you really listened for the answer. Adults do it to adults all day, every day. It becomes one long run on sentence: “Howareyoudoing?” (Praying there is no real involved response).
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Instead of just saying “How Are You Doing?” you should pause, stay silent, use eye contact and nonverbal clues, wait for it, here it comes…” I’ve had a migraine for 2 days” “Oh I’m sorry, gotta go now.” Or “I get migraines too” and share your remedy. NOTE to parents: try to listen, validate your child’s concerns and know your child well enough to know when they are truly concerned about something. Listen, not try to fix it. Help them find a solution.
When your child hears “Howareyoudoing” instead of “How are you doing?” They are much more in tune, hear more and are more discerning than you think. It is said, children are very good at judging character. Even though parents often say, they don’t listen, they do. Sometimes they choose to ignore you. Ignoring is another of their highly practiced skills. They use this skill to keep out of trouble, e.g. “oh, sorry mom, did you tell me to take out the trash, I didn’t hear you, I was reading/studying.” The parent is so happy to know they are reading/studying; the child wins and the trash stays until tomorrow.
Parents, you can win the I didn’t hear you battle, and have a better relationship, by practicing your listening skills. Understand the difference in the “Worried Mom” and the “Politician.”
The politician has one goal, there are 50 people at the first event, and I must shake all 50 hands and be personable. I have 2 more events today. I can talk about the political profession because I was in it. I was often told hurry up, but I really wanted to know the answer, and use it as the topic at my next meeting. The “Politician” is often for quantity not quality, with few exceptions, even though many try. It is an art that takes, time, skill and practice.
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The ”Worried Mom” means, “are you hungry, is someone bothering you, or are you wearing clean underwear?” There is also the “Busy Mom/Dad that says “Howareyoudoing, Ok, good, take out the trash.” Our kids want and need the “Worried Mom”, they know you care about their answer, you are genuinely interested and for that moment they are the center of your world. That is how you help them build self-esteem and relationships.
Here is your assignment:
  • Practice the “Worried Mom” approach. Ask the question, genuinely have the time to listen and build relationships.
  • Practice the “Worried Mom…” every day with adults, then when you use it with your children and family it is a natural part of you.
  • If you must use “The Politician” and greet all 50 people in the room, you don’t have time to ask the question, just simply say “Hello, I’m Gwyn Gittens I hope I have your vote!” The simple truth works!
  • Listen, validate your child’s concerns and know your child well enough to recognize when they are truly concerned about something. Their concern must be your concern to help them through it. Ask follow-up questions and LISTEN to the answers.
Finally, it’s summer and you will see your children much more face to face. Watch and listen to them at play. Use the time wisely to practice the “Worried Mom… How Are YOU!” and LISTEN to the answer.
Sorry kids I told them about the “I can’t hear you” trick.

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