Listening with a Third Ear:
(This concept is from Les & Leslie Parrott’s study on RightNow Media called “Parenting: The Early Years”)
When your child is upset, ask yourself: “What is it that is feeding my child’s mind right now?”
Sometimes you need to be attentive because not everything impacts children in the same way. What might be disruptive to John’s spirit might not even faze Jackson. So sometimes you can’t always just set a hard rule. You have to really be attentive to how their environment is impacting that particular little person.
Imagine wearing a “third ear.” In addition to listening with your two physical ears, try “listening” in a third way to what is going on underneath our children’s actions and outbursts. Think about it. Our children sometimes don’t know how to express what is going on in their little hearts. And add to that our busy schedules, all our running around – they’re tired and stressed; we’re tired and stressed. And it’s hard to stay attentive and connected.
Family exercise: “Mad, Sad, and Glad”
In order to gain some insight into your children and for them to learn about you, try this simple exercise next time you’re traveling in the car or around the dinner table.
Each person shares one thing from the day (or week) that made them “mad, sad & glad.” This gives your child practice at articulating emotions in a calm way. And this gives your kids a glimpse into your mind to help them get to know you better.
This is a great time for your kids to feel your undivided attention, and experiencing your listening ear.
This will certainly be interesting and likely humorous. It’ll be good for your kids to hear that what makes one person “mad” can easily make another person “sad.”
Throughout Scripture, we see God express emotion in a variety of ways. Read through the examples below and notice the necessity of emotion. What does it communicate to you about your child’s emotions? How can you help your child learn about the heart of God by pointing out these truths about His emotions? And what about you? How do you handle your emotions? What can you learn from God’s emotions to apply to your own life this week?
Jeremiah 32:41New Living Translation (NLT)
41 I will find joy doing good for them and will faithfully and wholeheartedly replant them in this land.
13 The Lord is like a father to his children,
tender and compassionate to those who fear him.
3 Long ago the Lord said to Israel: “I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.
5 The Lord examines both the righteous and the wicked. He hates those who love violence.
6 So the Lord was sorry he had ever made them and put them on the earth. It broke his heart.
35 Then Jesus wept.
8 In a burst of anger I turned my face away for a little while.
But with everlasting love I will have compassion on you,”
says the Lord, your Redeemer.
9 In all their suffering he also suffered, and he personally[a] rescued them.
In his love and mercy he redeemed them. He lifted them up and carried them through all the years.
14 When Jesus saw what was happening, he was angry with his disciples. He said to them, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children.
33 He took Peter, James, and John with him, and he became deeply troubled and distressed.