It’s Not Just About the Legos
We stood in my friend’s kitchen, chatting and drinking coffee, when one of her sons walked in and said, “Hey look what I made!”
We politely listened and ‘oohed’ and ‘ahhed’ as he gave a detailed description of the Lego spaceship with all possible luxuries. We’d been chatting quite a while, as moms do, and I think we both felt like he needed this moment to have our attention, but when he left the room I told her that sometimes it’s so hard for me to listen to Lego descriptions or other seeming never-to-end conversation topics from my kids.
My constant phrase seemed to be, “Not right now!” or rushing them to finish up their description.
Right Now It’s Legos – But what Will the Conversation be About Later?
She said, “I have a hard time too, but I want them to know that I will listen to them when they have something important to tell me. Right now it’s Legos, but what about a few years from now? It could be drugs or sex. I want them to feel like they can talk to me, and if I don’t show them that I value their interests now, why would they turn to me later when the topics get even more difficult or uncomfortable?”
Wow—if I hadn’t been motivated before, suddenly it became very clear to me that the structures I set up now would be so important later.
These little moments of listening were smoothing the way for long term deep connection.
This sparked a long term project for both of us to really look for ways to make ourselves available for these conversations, and to get in the habit of being families with open communication.
I started seeing the commentary on Lego spaceships as an invitation into their world, and on the other hand, I also got better about saying, “I’m not able to focus on you right now, but how about we talk at bedtime (or while I make dinner, or when we’re driving to the store…)” and then making sure I paid attention when I said I would. Ten minutes of my focus is 100 times better than an hour of partial attention and annoyance!
Along with getting better about noticing when I was totally distracted while “listening”, I began looking at how I shut down communication by jumping in too quick or being uncomfortable about a topic.
Find more on opening up conversation with your kids:
- Lots of ideas in Alissa’s book, Bounceback Parenting: A Field Guide for Creating Connection Not Perfection
- The Difference of 17 Seconds (Think you don’t interrupt? Try this and see!)
- Between Mom and Me – Mother Son Journal offers creative way to connect
- Classic Conversation Games to Play With Kids
64 Positive Things to Say to Kids
Subscribe to Download your FREE printable of 64 Positive Things to Say to Kids
Nice one.but pls how do we handle it when the twos wants to talk to mum at the same time and ure so exhausted?
Thank you for the reminder. It’s hard to remember these things that should be in the front of our minds especially when we’re so busy, so sleep deprived and irritable, and so caught up in our to-do’s. I’m all my kids have right now because there is no family near us, and we haven’t made friends yet where we moved. Sometimes we just gotta put ourselves in their tiny shoes! I always want my kids to be able to come to me, even when it’s a scary topic for them. Being a good listener to them will also show them how to be a good listener as they get older. All my mom goals revolve around “Monkey see, monkey do.” lol!
Thank you so much for this. What a powerful message. Sandra
You’re so welcome Sandra. It was something I needed to hear too!
Creative With Kids
Thanks so much Kelly.
Such a lovely, lovely post. I needed that. Sharing on my page tomorrow, thank you
Also good to listen just to listen. They are amazing, enchanted, fantastic, human beings. Do we have to plan every moment of their childhoods as a tactic to avoid drug addiction or teen pregnancy? They are wonderful, and what they have to say is important.
Beyond what the article mentions, you are teaching your kids how to listen to others, and how to have a conversation. This will affect them for the rest of their lives.
this is so true, my 13 yr old came up to me and said thanks for being like you are, I said How?
She said I trust you and you listen to me and I’ve never been to a rave like all my friends and I’ve never done really bad things to be accepted. I always felt it
I had to teach myself to listen, one day after fake listening I thought. pretend what that kid is saying is the most important thing in the world right now, cause it is
to that kid
and then it’s like watching a flower bloom
Love this, was thinking about this article new years day and made it my resolution on my page twolittleajs but couldn’t remember where I’d read it, then today I saw it in my news feed and shared! 😀
love this one
Love my conversation time with Leon when we talk about sharks and dinosaurs and building lego parks or train tracks. I love looking into his shining eyes and sharing our one -on-one time. U0001f600U0001f60d
Nida Fatima Jadavji Rubab Fatima Ali
Virginia Watson Wagoner
So important. If they are not talking to you, they are talking to someone and not always a trusting adult!
Gaynelle Sales Cervantes
Stefani Allison & Jane Leon??????
Such a great reminder to just “be” in the moment with them.
Great advice! I have listened to a great many Lego, Pokemon and Minecraft stories from my little man for years. Pokemon stories were complicated and super loooonnnnggg!! It all seemed so important to him, though, so I listened. Now he’s 9 and I get stories about school, his friends and his feelings about things ( good or bad). He asks questions about things on the news, life and history. He asks advice on how to deal with mean kids, hard tests and hurt feelings. I can only hope the communication will continue through tween and teen years. 🙂
Wonderful Alissa – I definitely am guilty of of brushing off & not really listening – thank you for the reminder – I needed it 🙂
twenty five years ago my then five year son asked me about men marrying men. After initial and silent what? A little light went on in my head and Bazinga I knew at that moment that the HOW I answered that question was important. I must have done something right because he has grown into a fine young man.
I found a great phrase that helped me. I would say something similar to “I really want to listen to your story, description etc, but I can’t give you my full attention right now because I’m busy driving etc. Can you please make sure you remind me later today so I can really listen, because it sounds so exciting and I really want to hear all about it.”
Thanks for this nice and crisp read and for reminding me that it is all about creating habits from early on.
Oh wow, your friend made such a good point. My son is massively into dinosaurs, his life pretty much revolves around them. Sometimes it can feel a little overwhelming but this is what’s important to him and maybe I too need to make more effort to listen better.