Were they listening?
Parents of the Bluegrass, I have a question for you. Do your kids know the difference between hearing you and listening to you? With today’s fast paced, instant gratification, hand-held electronic baby-sitting practices, I find the frustration growing in parents.
“Take your finger out of your nose!”
The inevitable answer is “what?”
As I repeat the instruction, knowing full well they heard me, the child cuts me off half way through with “It wasn’t in my nose.” Argh, if you heard me why did you make me repeat myself? They don’t really know the answer to their own question. The real answer is, they heard you but weren’t listening.
The question, “what?”, allows them to delay their response long enough to prepare their answer. It is a delay tactic and a defense mechanism; both required for the potentially embarrassing subject at hand, for time to find the answer to the question, and of course, to turn on the comprehension part of listening, which maybe we failed to trigger in them initially.
How can we help ourselves help them to listen?
The truth is, the first thing we need to do is learn how to get their attention with the least amount of energy expended possible.
Yelling or scolding builds a mental wall that only increases the problem and elevates the stress and frustration. Where can you learn how to do this? Lots of places. Heck, you can google it and will be reading methods for days. Maybe that would work for you, but I am proposing martial arts lessons; what I see work daily.
The secret in martial arts training and listening skills is not a top ninja secret. There are several things that go into play with martial arts training and listening skills.
Right from the start, the instructor must develop a rapport with the student while working with all students. Our instructors immediately let the student know they are safe, but will be held accountable to rules. If this rapport isn’t built the rest doesn’t work and the success rate is significantly less.
One of my favorite tools to improve listening over hearing is what we call focus anchors. These are short and simple commands and sometimes even as simple as a sound, used consistently for developing one specific behavior. Once used, nothing else may happen until the appropriate response has been received.
There are many focus anchors, but one of my favorites is a word that literally means attention, “Charyot”. Charyot, said loudly and firmly, makes our students immediately bring their feet together, hands by their sides and eyes on the instructor as they yell back “Charyot.” At this moment we have their eyes on us, their body still and most importantly their listening engaged.
It would be ridiculous to try to do this every time you wanted to speak to your kids, nor should you. This is the anchor that brings us back into control when normal distraction starts to turn into disrespect or chaos.
Give it a yell, “Charyot!”
Life is better now, even if just for the moment, as they are now ready to listen and make their decision on what to do with our direction. When used at home, the exact same thing can happen. Did you know, we actually encourage taking our behavior practices and extending them to home rules?
When we see a family, who could use a little help with listening vs. hearing, we will offer suggestions on how to use techniques at home, similar to what our martial arts instructors use.
The great part is, that whether it works immediately, the parent is able to return with the student and report the progress. The progress is either celebrated or coached according to the level of success reported. Ever heard, “it takes a village to raise a child?” We like to hear what is happening, and the kids like to know that everyone in their life is engaged and on the same page.
We would love to show you more on this topic in class!
Just as there are many things that can be used as a focus anchor, there are also many ways to give your child the motivation they need! Each student learns differently, and yours may be just be waiting for us to find that one key thing that triggers them to become the best listener they can be!