If we listen with intent, we hear what it is that children value above all else. They are the most basic of needs. A roof over their heads so they have a warm and safe place to sleep. Food to eat, so they are nourished. People in their lives to hear what they have to say.
The roof need not be fancy but should provide protection from the elements of nature. The food should be simple and healthy. As for the people who interact with children on a daily basis, they should make the children feel important and loved.
As I waited at the school office to leave for Saffron's field trip to the Bob Bullock Museum this morning, a fourth grade girl walked in hysterical and near tears mumbling something about somebody always touching her or her food or something along those lines. The school nurse was calm and tried to bring about a sense of calmness to the girl by asking her if she had her lunch with her for the field trip. She tried to divert the girl's attention to anywhere but the current situation.
I marveled at the nurse's ability to listen and know that what the girl really needed was to be heard. I saw the girl after lunch on the field trip and asked my daughter about her. 'Oh, she always whines' she replied and repeated exactly what the girl was saying at the office this morning.
Sometimes we listen to the sounds of conversation but do not hear the actual words. We do not take time to understand their meaning. We do not hear the cries for help disguised in children acting out in one way of another. But children are not the only ones with a need to be heard. We all have needs and wants. What it is we value above all else is what we will seek out to bring about.