Let them be seen and heard

Published 10:08 pm Tuesday, March 19, 2019

By Nathan Rice

He was in the backseat telling me all about the latest game that caught his attention. I can’t say I understood all that he told me, but I was able to understand that he was on a great quest.

He spoke of unique worlds, the tools that allowed him to build in that world, the currency of that world, and how some strange creatures once destroyed something he had carefully constructed. He shared the ins and outs of the game and told me about the grand plans he had to rebuild what the creatures had destroyed.

Email newsletter signup

His discourse lasted the length of the car trip, and he promised to keep me up to date on his progress. I gladly let him talk throughout the trip, and I told him I was excited to hear an update when we got back together.

Don’t shut children down, tune them out, or tell them you don’t care to hear about what it is they are sharing. Almost everyone likes to tell others about things that are important to them. This is no different for children. Allowing them to talk to you about the things that are important to them, even if it’s just their latest digital quest, is an easy way to make a connection with them.

It also lets them see that what’s important to them is important to you. You may not care much about the latest video game or be particularly interested in every little detail on their newest toy, but being genuinely interested in what they are sharing shows that you care about them. They will notice who honestly cares about what they are saying.

Letting them share about things now, no matter how small they seem, will also set the stage for them to share about bigger things later. Why would we expect them to tell us what is going on in their lives when they are older if we spend the youngest years of their lives ignoring what they say?

I asked him questions as he described the fantasy world on his computer screen. I asked him if diamonds were the most expensive gem in the game and if there was any way to defend his creation from the creatures that sought to destroy what he had made. He happily shared the answers.

I know some adults would have told me to not “keep him going” in the discussion, but I wanted him to know I heard what he was saying. I was listening to what he was saying because he is important to me.

Asking him things about the game, and allowing him to respond, also allows him to get into the habit of answering questions I ask. This allows conversations between us to be a normal thing and can help down the road when the questions might be of a more serious nature.

I encourage you to let children talk. Listen to their stories and ask them questions. It shows them that you love and care about them today and prepares both of you for the times when a discussion about a serious issue is needed.

Nathan Rice is a Hampton Roads native and can be reached at nrice@abnb.org.