How To Make Your Children Better Listeners
My favorite car is our 1955 White Chevy Bel Air. It is completely awesome driving this car around our small town because it purrs like a kitten, hugs curves when you go around a bend in the road and feels amazing on a spring day with the windows down. I’m itching to take it for a ride just writing this. This is our family ride. We have three young kids so our backseat has a row of car seats on the bench seat. (It’s pretty cool that we were able to have seatbelts installed specially by the dealer before we took it from the lot, since in 1955 this car didn’t have seat belts.) .
So how do you make your children better listeners? Listen to them.
Ask them questions and listen. That’s it. Let me tell you a little story. We are in the car a lot as a family and we talk to each other practically the whole way to places. But it didn’t use to be this way. Before we got the Chevy Bel Air, our family was driving a 2003 Suburban. This was absolutely a complete family car with plenty of room for everyone. When we would drive to Florida from New Jersey, this car was a beast for the 2-day trip because we had room for all the car seats in the back, a huge trunk for all the bags and room for our children to spread out with their activities. This model also had a DVD player which we were happy to have on our 2-day drive to Chicago a few years ago. We wore out Disney’s Frozen on that trip…playing it on a loop for 18-hours in each direction.
When the Suburban finally broke down for the last time, our family had a discussion about what we would purchase next. The thought of being the proud of owners of a newer car that would eventually rake us over the financial coals in repairs like what we had just experienced did not seem appealing. So we looked online and found a local dealer who specializes in classic cars. My husband and I were immediately in love with them, besides the fact that we could work on the old cars ourselves and save some money on repairs.
At the dealer, we got to test drive a lot of oldies but goodies on the lot. They had a 1955 Chevy Bel Air four-door, ready to be sold and we were eager to test drive it once we saw it. We were actually hoping to get the Chevy Nomad that was there a few weeks before but it was sold by the time we got there. After testing driving the Bel Air, we decided this was the one we wanted. So in early October 2015, we brought it home.
After we brought it home and took our first drive together as a family, we noticed something pretty cool. (No, it wasn’t the fact that the high beams are controlled by a button on the floor or the fact that the motor is still painted blue.) It was that when we drove the Bel Air with the kids, we had a really fantastic conversation with them. And every trip after that was awesome with some really interesting and fun conversation. We also noticed that we were listening to the kids more and they started listening more attentively and more often too.
You know…with the Bel Air we didn’t have the distractions of the DVD player or the radio anymore (since the radio in the Bel Air doesn’t work). We also aren’t sitting far away from each other anymore. It felt like we had them all to ourselves again, iwthout trying to grab their attention over the video player or radio.
I think as parents we didn’t mean to but we had conditioned the kids to amuse themselves when we drove in the Suburban. Since they were in the rear seats and we were in the front it was a challenge to talk with them so they had to adapt. A lot of times we turned on the DVD right away as a way for us to have an adult conversation in the front seat. Looking back on it, I’m thankful we had that car because now we know how special it is to talk with our kids and interact with them again. We might have let the distractions continue as time went on just because we were used to it. A lot of times they just asked for the movie and we turned it on, usually before we even left the driveway at home because that was the habit we had created.
Now we get in the car for a drive and we have really interesting conversations about things we see. We also reinforce manners about not interrupting the other person who’s talking and that we need to listen to each other and take turns. It’s a wonderful feeling to have this daily opportunity to talk with our young kids in a world that is full of distractions and white noise. And we’ve found that since they know we are listening to them, the kids have been are more respectful, more cooperative and happier overall.
It is my hope that when our kids are older they will look back on this time when they were all piled in the backseat and think fondly of it. And share this story with their families and do the same with their children.
Wish your children were better listeners? You can change it. You don’t need to have a classic car to start having conversations to listen to your children. Just unplug the headphones, turn off the radio, leave the video games and DVD’s at home. Open the conversation by asking questions and encourage everyone to share their thoughts and opinions and take turns listening. I’m sure your family will thank you for it.
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