These next questions will help you assess just how well you are applying this essential maternal secret with your children. As you read each item, do some serious, honest soul searching. If you want to learn this parenting secret, you must be willing to identify your current weaknesses so that you can change. Write down your thoughts in your journal so you can review them frequently to help you learn this lesson.
1. In the story, Ricky described his mom as someone who always made his "feelings feel so good." How do you think your kids might describe your listening abilities? (Have you ever thought to ask?)
2. On an average day, how many total minutes do you think you spend attentively listening to your child? Be careful: discussing chores, homework, messy bedrooms, or misplaced library books doesn't count. So add up only the number of actual minutes spent attentively hearing your kid discuss things he cares about or is excited about, such as his thoughts, feelings, fears, loves, concerns, hopes, dreams, successes—"the personal stuff." Your goal is to double that current number— or even triple it—by the end of three weeks.
3. Pretend that the last few conversations between you and your child were videotaped. Rewind the tape, push Play, and watch yourself carefully. As your child was talking to you, what were you doing?
□ Were your eyes on your child or elsewhere?
□ Did you make assumptions, or did you try to practice letting go of judgments and just listening?
□ Did you reflect back any of the emotions your child might be feeling when she shared something meaningful with you?
□ Did you ask questions to get information instead of trying to prove a point?
□ Did you tell your child you enjoyed or valued what she said, or in any way let her know you found it interesting?
□ Were your hands doing another task, or were they still, so that you could tune in to your kid?
Now for the moment of truth: If you were the child, would you have wanted to talk to the adult in the video?
4. On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being the lowest and 10 the highest) how would you rate your listening skills? Why did you choose that rating? What one little thing could you do to improve your score?
5. What is the one thing you recognize in yourself that you know you need to change so you can become a more attentive listener to your child? Write it on the lines here. Then get ready to learn the secret and use it with your family.
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