A common statement from parents is

"My kids don't listen to me".

The way we communicate with our children dictates the quality of our relationship with them; but it's not always what we say that make's an impact. Listening is just as essential as communicating with our children and I will explain why and how this can be done on a level which will really take the relationship you have with your kids to another level, a conscious level.
Often there are times when parents feel that they are fighting a losing battle to get their children to do what they ask of them. This can be very frustrating and often ends up in a power struggle between parent and child. Children know more than us adults sometimes give them credit for and that includes what they want. There is often a difference in what parents want their children to do and what they, themselves, want to do (which is usually more fun). This will result in them tuning out and refraining from what the parent has to say. They are quite happy playing with their doll or racing car, but you want them to come and sit at the dinner table; here we have a conflict of priorities. This is very important to understand because, as a parent, we may conclude that our children are just being difficult or misbehaving when really their is much more going on. The reason for children being unresponsive or expressing a disinterest in your instruction is usually because they have their own values and sometimes their values will be in conflict with your own. In other words, what you see as important in that moment is not necessarily what they see as important. This is where the power struggle begins, but it doesn't have to be that way. Power struggles between parent and child damage the line of communication and, as a result, can also be damaging to the child's self-esteem levels. There is a more effective way of dealing with the situation and that is to come out of parent mode and go into coach mode. By this I mean listening to them first.
There is no doubt that children often push their parents to the limit. This can result in quite a bit of yelling and maybe even a few tears. Being a coach, I have learnt that no one really enjoys being controlled and so coaching involves supporting and guiding clients to achieve what they want in life. When we give up our right to be in control all the time, we allow ourselves to listen and communicate on a much more conscious level. I have arrived at the conclusion that the coaching model can work very effectively within the family unit between parent and child. Effective listening and authentic communication are two key qualities that a good coach must possess in order to be a great coach and it applies just as much to being a parent. Good parents, in order to be great parents, must also possess the qualities of effective listening and authentic communication. Firstly, we must distinguish between hearing and listening.
The majority of us are hearing what is being said, but rarely do we listen on the level I am referring to. Hearing is passive and, therefore, requires little effort. Listening, on the other hand, requires us to search for meaning, identify emotion through tone of voice and, generally, go beyond our natural hearing process. Listening is a conscious, active process which requires more than just hearing the words being said. So how does this apply when interacting with our children?
We can actually learn from our children when we listen to them. We also develop a deeper connection them because of our ability to understand them and their needs. When we give our children our full, undivided attention, we are open to discovery and, therefore, find out all sorts about them and ourselves. Children can't always put their feelings into words and so it is important to pay attention to their actions and behaviour as well as what they say. Often, when children are expressing anger or sadness, their is something deeper going on rather than them just being badly behaved. When we show that we are listening to them they will be more likely to communicate openly and honestly with us. This is why it is important not to yell at them because they will think twice about telling us stuff that they know will cause us to yell at them. Going back to coaching I believe that parenting is a form of management just like being the CEO of a company is. You are the CEO of your family and you want your family to perform at the best of their ability right? The role of a coach fit's into the parent-child relationship like a hand to a glove; and one of the first skills a coach must acquire is the skill of conscious listening.

So how can we ensure that we are really listening to our kids?

1. Eye contact - Ensure that you look at them when they are talking to you. This let's them know that what they are saying is worthy of your attention.

2. Allow them time to think - By doing this we give them the space to think and form their own views and opinions.

3. Have fun with this! - By allowing them to explore their own mind and emotions they will enjoy the experience of growth and development and so will you.

Author's Bio: 

My name is Samantha White and I am the owner of Self-worth Coaching. I set up Self-worth Coaching after completing my Personal Performance Coaching Diploma at The Coaching Academy earlier this year. I also became a mother whilst completing my training and I started to see clear similarities between the role of a coach and the role of a parent. The I read John Whitmore's book 'Coaching for Performance' which confirmed my hypotheses. I took some extra training with Dr Joe Rubino in Self-Esteem Elevation for Children and now I work with parents and support them to integrate coaching principles with a conscious parenting style in order to empower them to support their children to champion their self-esteem and have an amazing relationship with them too.