Children are notorious for hearing things differently than we’ve actually said, and for perceiving reality as different than it is. Last week my three year old son came timidly out of the bedroom a mere fifteen minutes after I had finished singing him a lullaby, explaining that he had slept and was ready to play. We spent the next fifteen arguing about whether he had actually slept of not. “I know that you didn’t sleep, now it’s time to go take a nap!” I would repeat. It was important to me that he didn’t think he could get away with lying to me. Quite instantly, it hit my like a load of bricks as I slowed down to actually hear his plea. I heard him to understand, instead of listening just to respond. There was genuine belief in his words. His expression was desperate and I could see that he just wanted me to believe him. He truly believed he had slept, and our conversation (for him) was not about the nap, but was about hoping I would trust him. Now my insistence that I knew he was lying was teaching him that I don’t trust his word; that I think he’s a liar. Suddenly that afternoon nap was much less important than laying a foundation of trust in my relationship with him. Our conversation quickly changed, “are you sure you napped?” I asked through squinted eyes. His simple response was heavy with relief, “yes.”
“and you feel, rested and ready for this afternoons adventures?”
His response became slightly more energetic while I could see he was still leery of getting his hopes up, “yes!”
“Okay, then lets go turn off your sounds.”
Our tiny ritual which seals the deal of sleep time being over. Turning off the white noise machine.
In the past month we have moved, changed daycare/babysitter plans three times, lived temporarily at my moms house, and have otherwise been incredibly busy and detached. It’s been a rough transition for both of us, but of all things, valuing communication has eased the season more than I ever imagined. It’s no secret that adults struggle to communicate efficiently and a well known fact that children often gesture and grunt instead of actually talking. It’s also well known that only 20% of communication is actually words. listening for that other 80% of communication destroys frustration and has overall significantly improved my relationships on every level.