Active listening is more than just hearing what our kids say.
Children will listen to us after they feel listened to. When we listen earnestly to our kids, they feel validated. If we don’t eagerly listen to the ‘little stuff’ when they are little, they won’t tell us the ‘big stuff’ when they grow up .
As parents we are always quick to offer solutions to our children’s problems, sometimes without hearing them out. This leaves them feeling invalidated, frustrated and often left without a satisfying solution. Listening to our children is the chief skill we require as parents. Patiently listen to their disappointment when they do not accomplish a task, accept their frustration when things don’t go their way and acknowledge their dissatisfaction when they complain about anything.
Active listening is the single most important skill we can have in our parenting toolkit. It’s a form of communication that lets children know that we are ‘with them’, aware of what they are saying, accepting their perspective, and appreciating their situation.
Here are few ways parents can be active listeners to their children:
1 Do not judge or evaluate while listening to kids
Acceptance is the key to active listening. It’s not the time to teach or object, or help children to solve a problem, or ask a ton of questions. Children want someone who they can talk to without interruptions or judgement.
2. Accept the feelings and perceptions of the child.
They are real for him/her even if we do not agree with them. Be objective and keep your feelings/emotions separate from your child’s. Instead try to dig in and understand what he/she may be feeling. Let the child take responsibility for his/her feelings. Stay separate from their experiences.
3. Give undivided attention while listening.
Stop what you are doing and give your undivided attention to kids while listening to them . Don’t push the child to continue talking after he/she seems satisfied or wants to stop.
4. Allow children to come to their conclusions.
Be patient. Do not draw your own results. The goal of active listening is to make the child feel heard and have a safe place to vent & talk. Sometimes, just by listening the child feels secured and knows that his parents are there on his/her side.
5. Repeat what your child said.
Once your child has finished speaking, repeat to make him know that you have understood. It need not be the same words. Restating or rephrasing what the child said is particularly useful when he/ she is experiencing powerful emotions that the child may not be aware of.
6. Listen to child’s nonverbal messages.
Many messages that children send are communicated nonverbally by their tone of voice, their facial expressions, their energy level, their posture, or changes in their behaviour patterns. You can often understand more from the way a child says something than from what is said. When a child comes in obviously upset, just let them speak and express themselves first, before asking them to calm down.
7. Ask their opinions regularly.
Ask children about their opinions/views on various things. If we show that we are really interested in what they think or feel and that their opinion matters, they get more comfortable about expressing their thoughts.
To feel listened to is to feel valued, respected and loved. When our kids feel we really listen to them, it builds their confidence and self -esteem. It reduces arguments. It makes them feel intelligent and capable. It builds emotional intelligence in kids.
It can be tempting to brush off our children’s problems especially if we have had a hectic day or a bad day. But our children need to know that we respect their words are going to listen to them in every situation. Only then will they be comfortable in sharing with us as they grow up. Active listening requires us to use our intuition about what children may be feeling or what lies beneath their words oe behaviour. It is well worth our effort as parents as everyone in the family will eventually benefit once we begin to use this important skill.
This post is part of the #BlogchatterA2Z challenge run by Blogchatter
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