This may seem obvious, but listening is more than just hearing what someone is saying. When parents are engaged with their children, they’re actively involved. This means that the speaker feels heard and validated through physical touch (holding hands) or eye contact (looking into your child’s eyes), as well as verbally (asking questions). Listening properly takes practice, but it can be learned. Here are some tips to help you listen to your children:
Use a Good Question
If your child is speaking to you, but you’re not listening to her, then she’s probably not going to feel that she has your complete attention. Be careful not to interrupt. A good question will let your child know that you’re interested in what she has to say and will keep her talking. A good question will keep your child talking and help you learn more about your child’s experiences, feelings, and thoughts. So ask open-ended questions that encourage your child to talk about things that are new and interesting.
Sit Back and Listen
When you listen, sit back and give your child your full attention. If you’re watching your child’s every move, then you’re not really listening properly. Try to be still and look into their eyes as much as possible, without turning or interrupting them with questions or comments.
Summarize What You Hear
Good listeners don’t just listen to their child; they also listen to the child’s experience. They’re able to summarize what the child has just said and present it in a way that makes sense to them to apply it in the future.
Focus on the Child Fully
Try not to look at your child’s face while you listen — instead, listen to what they’re saying. Watch your child’s hands, arms, or legs to see if they are expressing themselves through body language. You may find your child’s expression is speaking louder than their words.
Use Non-Verbal Communication
As parents, we try hard to communicate our love for our children verbally, but sometimes all the words in the world aren’t enough. Your non-verbal communication can help your child to feel you are genuinely listening to them.