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Here’s what it means to listen to a child.

Here’s what it means to be tuned in to your child.

Here’s what it means to be the grown-up in the relationship.

When you go somewhere and your son or daughter will predictably get into some kind of trouble like touching things he should not or playing pranks on others, or interrupting the overall focus of the family, I believe he is speaking directly to his parents. This is an unspoken message sent in the only way our still undeveloped tiny humans can articulate. It is the best they can do to tell us what they need, much as a baby has only the means of a cry to inform us, young children have only their actions to speak for them, even if they can talk. If they could accurately tell us what they need with their words, every time, they would not be children, they would be adults. We must read between the lines with kids and try to understand what they are telling us by their actions, with the understanding that it is not literal. They are not saying they want to disrupt the fun because they don’t like it, they are saying they have a greater need in that moment. And it may be to feel cared about, and to feel that others are willing to give attention to them instead of to something else.

So if you find your young children interrupting you when you want to talk on the phone or go on Facebook, or when you attempt to do other things, consider that they are trying to inform you in the best way they can, that they want you to be with them and to do your own activities later. That’s how kids are, they don’t understand your point of view, only their own. And as parents our job is to respect that for some part of the day. The happiness looking, most well-behaved, children that I know come from families that have adjusted their lifestyles to accommodate a new way of thinking: one that has the needs of kids reduced to a formula of listening and responding rather than going and doing, buying and having.