Listening to children
Life can so much fun with children when I listen.
With my own children and grandchildren listening to their jokes, and their stories, and their adventures, and their sweet words of love and affection brings me so much joy and delight.
Listening with my ears, my eyes, my body and my senses
It's not possible to get the whole story with children if I just listen with my ears. A 3 year old, a 7 year old, and an 11 year old have not yet developed the capacity to talk like an adult, so they have other ways of communicating.
Listening to a child with my eyes is so helpful. Do I see her standing up tall with confidence or are her shoulders drooping towards the floor with disappointment or sadness? Do I need to praise her or comfort her?
Listening in play therapy
Children express their feelings and thoughts through the use of toys as symbols in play therapy. In a pretend game a child may choose a rescue helicopter to to deliver him from a scary dinosaur. For the child perhaps this game represents a real story in which the boy rescues himself from a scary school bully. Maybe he now knows that he has the ability to overcome what he's scared of.
This play scenario of confronting fear and achieving triumph is not dependent on the level of the number of words the boy knows. He is able to play out anger, fear and victory with his body, his actions, his emotional senses and his facial expressions.
Being aware of how children use their eyes, their ears, their bodies and their senses to express what they want to say is essential for us if we want to have authentic communication with the young ones we care for.
Bobbi Cruice practises Child Centered Play Therapy which is based on acceptance, respect and authenticity in the relationship between therapist and child. She enjoys photography, gardening and walking with her beautiful old dog.