Become a better Listener

4 Steps of Active Listening:

Stop-stop what you are doing and pay attention, this tells the speaker that you are focused on them and they are important.

Look-Make eye contact with speakers and face them directly.  Look for nonverbal cues (facial expressions and body language) that may tell you something about the speaker’s thoughts and feelings.

Listen-Listen to what the speaker is saying and pay special attention to their words, tone, and body language.  Realize that the speaker may be communicating several messages at the same time (some unspoken).

Respond-Respond in a way that tells the speaker you have not only been listening but that you have understood them as well.  Throughout the conversation, use eye contact, nods, “mm-hmmm’” smiles, or even a touch to confirm your attentiveness.   When he/she is finished speaking, reflect back what he/she has shared in order to reinforce your understanding of the situation.  Two communication strategies are: paraphrasing and asking questions to guide the speaker to their own solution.

4 Principles for Reflective Listening:

Establish an atmosphere of trust:  Let them know it is all right to talk with you

Look at (observe) What do you know about this individual’s background, experience, and temperament? Put yourself in the place of the other person; try to understand what the person is saying, not what you would be saying in the same situation.

Listen to them tell you their experience.  What is their perspective: How does he/she sound?  Listen closely for statements about feelings and for the feeling tone behind the statements; be patient and don’t push

Learn from the situation.  Develop your “best-educated guess” as to what might be going on.  Wonder about his/her feelings.  Identify your goals for the interaction and decide what response from you would best support those goals.  As you receive more information, modify your best guess and your response

How much sleep do kids need?

Are your kids getting enough sleep?

Setting a Bedtime so Everyone gets Enough Sleep

Too often we underestimate the need for sleep, particularly in growing children. A friend once told me her secret to parenting was that she put all her kids to bed at 6 pm. At first, I thought she was joking. Then she started to describe how some nights the kids literally went straight from dinner to bed, only stopping to ask why the sun was still up. At first, she did it so she didn’t have cranky kids to deal with before work and school. She kept doing it because it gave her a much needed moment of sanity in the evening. For school-age children with homework and activities, it may seem like an impossible time crunch. The first step is knowing how much sleep your child needs.  

Are your kids getting enough sleep?

Some days it seems like our kids will never run out of energy, but that’s not the best way to figure out if one’s getting enough sleep. For optimum health, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine established this guide:

  • Infants from 4 to 12 months should get 12 to 16 hours of sleep, including naps
  • Children 1 to 2 years old should get 11 to 14 hours, including naps
  • Kids 3 to 5 should get 10 to 13 hours, including naps
  • Children 6 to 12-year-olds should sleep 9 to 12 hours a night
  • Teenagers should get from 8 to 10 hours of sleep a night

Could your kids use a new bedtime to help get those much-needed sleep hours in? Wilson Elementary School in Kenosha, Wisconsin created a handy chart to find the right bedtime based on age and wake-up time. Use the chart to find the bedtime for each of your kids and write it down so you can put it into practice. 

Make the bedtime known in advance. You don’t want your children to see their bedtime as a form of punishment. Sleep is not punishment, it’s a necessity for being healthy, just like taking a bath, brushing their teeth, drinking water, and eating vegetables. 

Benefits of getting enough sleep at any age:

  1. Less stress, more room for joy.
  2. Better focus at school and work.
  3. Stronger immunity, means fewer sick days.
  4. Interacting with others in a more positive way. 
  5. Better decision making. 

If other changes need to be phased into their routine to make the new bedtime schedule work, start by laying out a plan for those changes. Create a logical order for each change and as co-parents agree to be consistent for everyone’s sake. 

To maintain consistency and momentum, try creating a simple checklist or star chart. As adults going through change we often can use the encouragement and helpful reminder, plus it allows the children to play a role in mastering their schedule.