The Power of a Listening Ear

The little classroom of preschoolers delighted in the enchanting game we played. “Fingers! Let’s count our fingers!” Little freckle-faced, Isaac called out. “1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8! 8 fingers!”

The kids and I giggled as we noticed how he continually skipped counting his thumbs and was certain he had 8 fingers.

We continued our counting game by counting our toes, arms, legs, eyes, and finally our ears, and mouth.

“God gave us 2 ears and only 1 mouth,” I state, pausing to think about God’s planning and purpose.

2 ears for listening, but only 1 mouth for talking. Why, then, am I not using my 2 ears twice as much as the 1 mouth I was given?

My own children’s eyes glaze over mid-way through my explanations. They nod compliantly as I drone on, but their minds are clearly on to the next thing.

During our Talk Time sessions, our pace is slow and relaxed. There is no hidden agenda. No plan to accomplish. I listen. They talk. I look at them. I hear them. They know they are heard. We connect.

Talk Time seemed to be a precursor to further learning the Lord had for me. It became obvious that conflict resolution was a desperate need for our girls. Our girls are “spirited”. Spirited: having or showing mettle, courage, vigor, liveliness. Attempting to solve a problem without raising voices, shedding tears, wide eyes, and flailing hands proves to be a huge challenge.

Enter me: clueless referee, confused coach, seeker of the peace.

Surveying the scene in front of me causes my heart to quicken, my shoulders to rise, teeth to clench. Scary mom rises up.

How did we get here? And, how, dear God, do I make it stop?

Reading The Explosive Child by Ross Greene this month has proven to be a tool God is using to provide peace in our home. The book I purchased 4 years ago, which has been sitting on my shelf ever since, is just the book I needed to help an ongoing problem in our house.

We are learning to solve problems with collaboration.

The first component of the plan in the book  proved to be like a breath of fresh air.

Step 1: Empathy, including reflective listening.

Wooosh…from 60 to 1 in one brief statement.

“I hear your concern. Your concern is you want to play Just Dance.”

“I hear your concern. Your concern is you want to finish your Adventure in Odyssey episode before bed.”

“I hear your concern. Your concern is you want pizza from Little Caesers.”

In order for me to state the concern, I must first hear the concern. Amidst the intense emotion, I have to hear the concern.

I cannot be emotional myself. And, I definitely cannot be thinking of the solution. I must use the two ears the Lord gave me.

Proverbs 18:13 To answer before listening— that is folly and shame.
Proverbs 1:5 Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance.

I quiet my mind.

Listen to the words being said.

Restate the concern I hear.

And, then, I exhale as my eyes and my dear ones eyes meet in the middle.

I am hearing.

And, she is being heard.

And, we are finally getting some where.

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