How to Actively Listen to your Children
What is Listening?
Active listening is the art of paying attention, listening with your whole body not just your ears, a very hard skill to master. Very few of us really listen and even less people know how to listen at all. Life has become fast and furious in the wake of materialism and wanting more and more to increase the value of our self-worth. However the very essences of what we do daily is communicate, but along the way we seem to never have the time.
Our children no matter how old they are will always need us to listen. Learning how to actively listen when they are young helps them in adolescence and also teaches them the fundamental core of life, communication.
Ten Top Tips to Active Listening to your Children
Active listening Skills
This means that you have to stop what you are doing, whatever that is. You are not paying attention if you are doing the dishes or fixing the car. Your children will know when you are not genuinely listening. Remember when children only get your attention when they have behaved badly then you can expect lots more bad behavior. Stop and pay attention.
If you are unable to stop whatever you are doing allocate a time when you can stop and give them your full attention. Effective parenting is about making time for your children on a daily basis, even if it is just fifteen minutes prior to bed time.
Some people find this difficult and uncomfortable. However it become easier with time and is vital to show that you are actively listening. Eye contact is part of your body language and clearly demonstrates that you are truly listening. Remember when your child wants to look at you; your eyes need to be there on them. If a younger child starts moving your face toward them, you are not listening because your attention is elsewhere.
Appropriate Single Words
A single word like “OK”, “right” “really” shows that you are actively listening. When you child pauses, let them know that you are listening. This also encourages them to keep talking and tell you whatever it is that they want to say.
Give your child the space where there will be no distractions. If this means that you have to turn the TV off or radio down, do it. Go to a separate room if you need more privacy. Avoid interruptions and never answer your telephone when your child is talking to you. The only exception here is if you are waiting for a vital call. However if you have made time this should not be an issue.
Reflect on what has been said and relay this back to them. Say things like “I would be quite angry if that happened to me” This shows that you have heard exactly what they have said, but you also agree with what they think and feel.
Do not interrupt your children when they are speaking. Allow them the space to tell you what is bothering them. This means biting your tongue and is sometimes a hard skill to master.
Repeating what they have said once your child has finished a phrase, not word for word but relay back to them what they have said. This gives them the time to think about what they have said and clarify anything else they may want to say.
Younger children need the physical contact, like a cuddle or hand holding when upset, this makes them feel safe. However, older children may not want any physical contact, especially in adolescence. So a reassuring pad on the arm or hand may be all they need or accept from you.
Last but by no means least ACTIVE LISTENING
Your children, whatever age thrive on positive attention and praise. Be alert to things they are doing and show interest in their interests. Praise them when they have done something impressive or challenging. This is irrespective of age or gender. Your children will always need you to be actively listening even when they are not directly talking to you.
One of the most important things to positive parenting is Active Listening.