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The Right Way to Listen to Your Kids

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It happened when I was at Target with my son. “Watch me, Mom!” And he proceeded to show me how high he could run and jump before I could stop him. It happened on Saturday, all day… “Hurry, Mom! Come here! Look at this.” And it happened last night as my daughter sat in her bed drawing horses, “Want to see how I draw this horse, Mom?”

Listening to your kids with interest will make your children feel that their ideas are valued and that they are respected. They develop a sense of self-esteem and confidence as they reason, “Since my parents believe I’m worth listening to, I must be a person of value and importance.” How can you become a better listener? Here are 4 specific ways.

1. Be attentive.

Stop what you’re doing as soon as you can and give your child your full attention. Make eye contact. Be sensitive to nonverbal cues, such as tone of voice and facial expression.

2. Encourage talk.

Smiles, nods, and one-word responses indicate interest. Keep questions brief, open, and friendly, and try to avoid asking “why” questions. Listen; don’t react.

3. Empathize.

Try to put yourself in your child’s shoes. This may take imagination and patience, but it will help you better understand your child’s actions and reactions.

4. Listen with respect.

Try to react to your child as you would to an adult friend. Listen at least as much as you talk. And face the fact that at times kids are complainers; sometimes they just need to get their grievances off their chests.

Learning to listen can help build closeness and connectedness with your children. It can also help them release pent-up emotions and strengthen their ability to make decisions and solve their own problems.  Whenever you listen attentively to any person, you pay a high compliment showing that you value what he or she is thinking. So make an effort. Keep your incoming communication circuits open to those you love.

Taken from The Connected Family by David and Claudia Arp.

Tell us! Do you think your kids would call you a good listener?


Why do you think listening to others is so important?

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