James 1:19 says, “Be quick to listen and slow to speak.” This age-old advice is still relevant in today’s society. When we teach children to be courteous, one of the most important lessons is in listening to others when they speak. Being quick to listen and slow to speak also means not interrupting others while they are speaking, but rather giving your full attention before your response. This practice alone is an effective communication tool that helps relationships progress smoothly.
As parents, we often demand our children’s full attention and most children quickly learn that parents do not approve when children interrupt them. As we are our children’s first teachers, it is wise for parents to extend the same courtesy to children, as they require in return. Children who have the freedom to speak to their parents with the confidence they are being heard and not interrupted, will naturally give the same courtesy to others.
The point is simple: Being quick to listen and slow to speak isn’t advice solely for the younger generation. These words of wisdom apply to all. Parents who model this behavior in their own relationships, and with their children, are rewarded with open communication, trust and respect. Making eye contact with children when they are speaking is a powerful tool that lets children know what they say matters. Gently touch your child on the arm or shoulder when they speak to let them know they have your full attention.
Many parents fall into a rut where they spend more time communicating with children for their misdeeds than they do for good behavior. This type of communication can have negative, long-term effects. Instead, look for situations where your child or teenager is modeling good behavior. Use these opportunities to lavish verbal praise on your child. When your child receives more positive communication from you than negative, they are more apt to want to please you naturally. There is great evidence that shows children who only receive negative attention will act out in order to feel noticed. It is beneficial to give children praise for positive deeds and let their intrinsic motivations come from doing things that are right, good and just.
Teaching courtesy to children is an important life lesson, but one that is more effectively taught through our own actions and behaviors, rather than sought from a textbook.
When we have open and courteous communication with our children, we find that homeschooling is simpler. Whether you use curriculum, unit studies or have chosen an unschooling approach as your homeschooling lifestyle, you spend plenty of time with your child or children every day. Ensuring that you have healthy, pleasant and non-stress filled communication is critical for ensuring your child’s experience is a rich and rewarding one. Teaching and modeling courtesy is essential for healthy communication and ideally should be standard in every household.