Listen to Learn

Crying girl


I have to admit; I don’t remember what it’s like to have emotions so unstable you go from crying to laughing faster than Jimmy Johnson making a NASCAR lap. But I do witness this from time to time in my girl.

At moments like these, we think, “Here we go again” or “I’ve had a long day; I’m really not up for this!” We just want her to calm down. In an effort to move this process along we might even make remarks such:

“It’s going to be alright.”

“This isn’t that big of a deal.”

“Try to have some self-control!”

When we hurry to move our child past the emotions they are currently feeling, we communicate that their feelings are invalid. Our children may get the impression that we don’t care about the things they care about. The result: we cut off communication.

If, instead, we choose to listen and learn, we can hear the heart of our child. Beyond the tears and raised voice, there is a feeling that needs expression. Pain, rejection, excitement, acceptance. Listening past the words to hearing the heart will open doors for you to encourage more conversation, not shut off future communication.

Open¬†dialog is the key to future opportunities to speak into your child’s life. Your listening ear today just may open the door to a¬†child listening to you tomorrow.



  1. Karen Rodriguez says:

    You are so right, Lynn! I used to try to downplay those emotions so that my daughter would think they were no big deal, thinking that would help her cope. But now I’ve learned that instead what that does is minimalize Her feelings and make her feel like her feelings aren’t valid. I’m learning to listen more at the moment and then talk about it later when she’s calmer. That also gives me a chance to get my thoughts together so I can guide her in a productive way. A great book that has taught me a lot is “How to listen so your teen will talk and how to talk so your teen will listen”.

    1. I love that book too Karen!

  2. Totally agree! Just last night my tween was nearing a melt-down with impending finals, basketball tryouts, and a jam-packed schedule. God gave me the grace to know to listen and encourage, not hurry away her feelings so that I could get back to work. Praise God for His perspective and this ongoing lesson, even after sharing about listening at ICD:

    By His Grace,

    1. How cool that you got it Lisa! Thanks for sharing…it’s encouraging!

  3. Yep…needed to hear this today. My four year old’s emotions ARE important, and things ARE a big deal to her. I need to remember to listen now so she’ll keep telling me how she is feeling later on in life.

    1. Yeah Kara! Start early!

  4. I’ve learned the hard way about rushing the process of her trying to express herself. Now, she holds it in and gives grunts or ‘I’m fine’s.” Moving passed those are trying and hard, but it’s improving. I’m learning that when she’s ready to talk, be ready to listen and focus in on her and nothing else. And keeping my eyes on her while she’s talking really gets me passed the wall she’s trying to build and see into the pain or joy that lays within her heart.

  5. Thank you so much. This is just what I needed to read. End of year, sports carnival, excited kids. It’s all been a little too much for our 11 yr old son. He is constantly melting down. It’s is so easy to say Grow up, suck it in, don’t worry, but we do need to take time, sit down and listen.

    1. Lee-Ann…it seems that time crunches are the moments we are tempted to do this most! I came home from the P31 office today feeling pressure. Just got my deadline for my next book…March 31st and I haven’t really started it yet! I found myself wanted to be short and hand out demands, “Put away my computer. Pick up your room. Put away your backpack.” All words that shut down my child and I think that when I ask “How was your day?” she’s going to answer! No way!

  6. I am also so guilty of doing this to my daughter….so much so just last night she told me “that’s why I don’t talk to you!”. Those words were enough to wake me up to how my actions were making her feel. And, I thought I was helping. Thank you for your Godly and wise words.

    1. I have definitely heard that too, Michelle!

      1. Yes, me too! From all four of my girls at one time or another. Sometimes it’s because I’m overreacting and making their anxiety worse. And as you say, we’re just trying to help…

  7. Beautifully, insightfully put.
    Oh Lord help me to remember this when I get frustrated with my daughter’s complaints, emotional ups and downs, and rejection. Help me not to take it personally. And to offer grace, patience, and time. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
    Maybe sometimes we just don’t want to revisit our own pain, so we distance ourselves when we see it in our kids. And I know I’m also guilty of taking on the feelings of my daughter. Boundaries!!

  8. I tried this with my 2 year old today. It sounds silly in comparison to all of the above, but she was at a birthday party, and when she arrived home her balloon burst. She was tired and the look on her face right before she burst into tears was awful. In the grand scheme of things this is no big deal, but she broke her wee heart crying real big tears. Ordinarily I would have tried to tell her it’ll all be fine, but instead I just grabbed her and hugged her. When she’d calmed down, we went inside and called her Dad. He brought home a packet of balloons. All is now well. It was good to remember that even although it wasn’t a big deal to me, it was a huge deal for her, and her feelings in that moment were valid, and we moved past it together, instead of her sobbing and me rushing us in to get on with all the jobs I had to do. Thanks for reminding me what’s important.

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