How many times do we listen
to our children while folding clothes, preparing
for the next day's meeting, or pushing a
shopping cart through the supermarket? While
that's understandable, it's important to find
time to give kids our undivided attention.
Listening carefully to our children builds
self-esteem by letting our youngsters know that
they're important to us and can lead to valuable
discussions about a wide variety of sensitive
carefully also helps us better understand what
our children really want to know as well as what
they already understand. And it keeps us from
talking above our youngsters' heads and
confusing them even further. For example,
suppose your child asks you what crack is.
Before you answer, ask him what he thinks it is.
If he says, "I think it's something you eat
that makes you act funny," then you have a
sense of his level of understanding and can
adjust your explanations to fit.
Listening to our children and taking
their feelings into account also helps us
understand when they've had enough. Suppose
you're answering your 9-year-old's questions
about AIDS. If, after a while, he says, "I
want to go out and play," stop the talk and
re-introduce the subject at another