You want your child to come to you when they are struggling. You
want your kids to know you are a resource when they're confused and
always available when life gets them down.
But when they come to you, you talk too much.
Instead of being a safe haven, you teach. Instead of being an
understanding presence, you lecture.
Don't worry, you are not alone. I struggle with this, too. I've
had to remove the words "teachable moment" from my vocabulary
because I was finding way too many of them; I always felt like I
had something important to say.
But my professional and personal experience show me that kids
need less talking and more listening. They need fewer lectures,
less judgment and more unwavering support.
Maybe they eventually will need a consequence for a choice, but
in the moment of sharing, they are highly vulnerable. They need to
feel safe with the decision to talk to you; they need to know your
first instinct is unconditional love.
We want to guide our children and tell them how to make life
easier, but the truth is that mistakes and challenges are necessary
and normal. We hope to share lessons that inspire conscientious
decisions, but in the end, our children learn by falling down and
making poor choices.
It's important to understand that children learn by watching how
we live, not by what we say. So while we search for the perfect
words or the most influential speech, our children are noticing our
choices, watching the way we treat ourselves and how we deal with
Instead of focusing on words, we need to demonstrate what we
want to teach. If we want our children to be less anxious, we need
to model what this looks like. And when we have difficulty modeling
appropriate behavior, we need to acknowledge it, ask for
forgiveness, and find the courage to try again.
In the meantime, as we work on our behaviors, we can practice
being quieter and less judgmental when they come to us for help.
Our kids usually just want to share their experience so they can
Even more importantly, they want to know that you are present
when they feel overwhelmed, that you can momentarily set aside your
urge to talk and teach and instead choose to listen, empathize and
Cathy Adams is a certified parenting coach, yoga instructor and mother to three girls.
See more of Cathy's stories here.
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