The Heart of the Matter

The key to a boy’s heart and mind is through his stomach, or so I’m learning. A donut (preferably a Bavarian Cream) and a listening ear unlocks all that my eleven year old son is thinking and feeling about life and school. So, we do weekly donut dates. I love to hear him share about things that really matter. Like how he is processing the decisions classmates are making, what he thinks about how students are treating each other at school, and what he believes is the right thing to do in any given situation. Yes, these are things eleven year old boys CAN and, given the right space, WANT to share!

Recognizing Amazingness

When you are in the midst of parenting or working with students it can be easy to lose sight of the big picture of how kids are really doing and focus on the areas that need improvement. A constant focus on where students need to grow can become a weight and discouragement for them if not balanced with affirmation of areas of life and personal development where they are amazing. If you are unsure of the talents, gifts, or amazingness of the students in your life, it’s time to get curious and take the initiative to figure it out!

Donut dates help me keep things in perspective. I get a 360 degree look at my son. I see where he’s at, where I hope to see him grow, and the time also allows me to see a side of him that he saves for those special donut filled afternoons. I would be missing out on so much of who he is if I didn’t set aside this weekly time. Yes, he loves bugs and bugging his sister, but there is SO much more to him than that. In our times together he shines as a compassionate, thoughtful, generous, creative, and funny kid that has a solid base from which to grow into a man who will love and leads others well. That is some pretty serious amazingness!

Door Openers

Right now, the donut is a door opener to deeper relationship and connection. I can see the opportunity to have me listen deeply to the things that matter most to him, and then taking time to affirm his strategies, thoughts, work, and effort is grounding him and creating a secure space as he is exploring more of his world and deciding who he ultimately wants to be.

Listening Defined

Together my son and I have created this sweet (literally) space for him to share things with me. I have made a choice to listen to him, giving him my undivided attention, absorbing the things he wants to share.

Listening is a key skill many believe they possess but unfortunately, few actually do. I’ve defined below listening versus not listening as well as what the different levels of listening are.

  • Not Listening. Those moments you are multitasking or distracted from what is taking place around you. Your phone is out, maybe the TV or computer is on, you find yourself talking over the top of someone else, or interrupting.
  • Level 1 listening is for the sake of yourself. You are focused on how the conversation applies or doesn’t apply to you. You are forming your answer while someone else is speaking.
  • Level 2 listening is for the sake of others. You are focused on each word spoken and how they apply to the person sharing. They have your full, undivided attention and time feels like it ceases to move forward as you are absorbed in what the other person is sharing.
  • Level 3 listening is also for the sake of others. You are focused on each word spoken and how they apply to the person sharing, but you are doing so as if you are looking into the conversation rather than in the midst of it. Basically you are using a bird’s eye view perspective in your listening to more fully connect with what the other person is sharing.

What type of listener are you? Level 2 and 3 are the most beneficial for relationship building with the people in your life. If you find you are not listening or are using Level 1 listening in most of your interactions, I would love to challenge you to give Level 2 a try. I think you will find the students in your life (adults, too) opening up in ways you haven’t previously experienced.

Hope you enjoyed learning about the numerous life benefits of donuts!

Thanks for checking out my blog! Levels of Listening is an Academic Life Coaching concept. I am an ICF certified Academic Life Coach and train youth advocates in the Academic Life Coaching 1.0 coach training program. I’m also an adoptive mom, youth advocate, and a licensed therapeutic foster parent. For more information about this program for the student in your life or on how to train as a coach, please contact me here.