Your Children Are Listening: Nine Messages They Need to Hear from You

Your Children Are Listening: Nine Messages They Need to Hear from You by Jim Taylor

Book: Your Children Are Listening: Nine Messages They Need to Hear from You by Jim Taylor Read Free Book Online
Authors: Jim Taylor
addresses the simple fact that children won’t get most messages the first or second or tenth or hundredth time we send them. I read a study not long ago that found that it takes 2,000 repetitions to gain a sports skill. I don’t know whether this finding would apply to children absorbing messages from their parents, but, given the number of times we have asked Catie and Gracie to set the table or bring their dishes to the sink or take their shoes off when they enter the house, I’m going to guess that 2,000 is a vast underestimation of the number of repetitions needed for messages to sink in.
    And I don’t think there is a parent on Earth who would say that it is easy getting to that large number of repetitions. In fact, I would guess that many parents give up long before they hit that magic number. Why? Well, does the image of beating your head against a wall ring any bells for you? That’s what it sometimes feels like to us when Sarah and I keep sending Catie and Gracie messages and they just don’t get them. What emotions do we typically experience in these situations? Frustration, anger, exhaustion, anddespair sum it up pretty well. And when you hit despair, the next reaction is to give up, but there is no place in parenting for surrender, because when you throw in the towel you’re really giving up on your children. The result? They lose. That’s where the next three keys come into play.
    That is why persistence may be the single most necessary tool for getting messages across to your children. Even when your children seem not to be listening (though they actually are), when they don’t seem to be getting the messages (the blank stare), when they are acting contrary to your messages (just to test your limits), your commitment to those messages and your willingness to persist against such discouragement will ultimately determine whether your children truly get your messages. You must be doggedly persistent; you just have to stick with it no matter how little appears to be getting through those thick skulls of theirs.
    Your children may not seem to be listening to anything you say. It’s easy to get frustrated and give up: “Why should I put so much time and energy into positive messages if my kids aren’t paying attention?” But let me assure you that your children are listening, they are watching, and those messages are getting through to them. It may take years for them to finally “get it” enough to act on those messages, but it’s worth the wait.
    But persistence isn’t enough because, more often than not, you are going to hit bumps in the road that will test your mettle. You’ll feel like your children are not only missing the messages you send them but also getting their exact opposites. For example, after months of sending your kids the messages “Be nice to your siblings” or “Please don’t interrupt when I’m speaking to your mother,” they continue to be mean and butt in. Oh, the frustration!
    That’s where perseverance comes into play. I see perseverance as different from mere persistence. The latter involves just continuing to send the messages under normal conditions. The former means continuing to send the message in the face of setbacks and discouragement. There is no magic to developing perseverance. Itstarts with an unwavering commitment to do what’s best for your children, no matter how tiring, frustrating, or just plain galling it gets. It continues with an ever-conscious awareness of when your children are pushing you to the edge—recognition alone will help prevent you from giving up—and a reaffirmation to continue to send the messages no matter what. Perseverance concludes with a deep faith in the value of your messages to your children. This steadfast conviction that your efforts will eventually be rewarded will provide you with the intestinal fortitude to step back from the precipice, turn around, and continue your journey of healthy messaging for the sake of your

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