Actively Listening to Your Child

Active Listening is when the listener is able to fully concentrate on, understand, respond to and remember what is being said. The listener is on the same level as the speaker, making eye contact, and actively taking an interest.

As parents and caregivers, we are busy – going in so many directions at once and trying our best to balance the plethora of responsibilities we all have. And let’s face it – our little ones tend to have so much to say that it can be hard to make ourselves stop and listen to yet another story about (insert their current “funny” story they’re telling on repeat). But here’s why pausing our to-do list and actively listening to what they have to say is so important…

Benefits of Actively Listening to Your Child:

  • It boosts their self-esteem. We all want our child(ren) to succeed, to be strong individuals and feel proud of who they are. This is step one to that goal.
  • They feel valued and heard.
  • It builds a strong bond between you and the child. This bond will last and grow throughout their childhood, and will create a safe and trusting environment for them. In other words, actively listening to their funny stories now will allow them to come to you when they’re needing help in their teens and beyond.
  • It teaches them mutual respect and how to listen to others.
  • It strengthens their social-emotional wellness and teaches them positive self expression.

Simple Steps to Active Listening:

  • Let them take the lead! As hard as it can be sometimes, do not rush them or jump in with your own words (unless absolutely necessary – i.e. to avoid a frustration meltdown).
  • Make them feel heard. Toddlers have such short attention spans and can quickly escalate if they don’t feel heard. Whatever response you give to them – even if it’s “I will listen to what you want to tell me, let me finish putting this away first” – should be said with eye contact, at their level and with full attention.
  • Get down on their level and use eye contact. These two simple acts are key to making them feel heard and engaged.
  • Body language says so much. Watch their facial expressions and body language to learn more about what they’re trying to say and how they’re feeling. Likewise, use your body language, such as a smile or holding out a helping hand, to show that you are engaged and listening as well.

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