Becoming a better listener is not just a parent’s responsibility, but a lesson for the children as well. When you listen to your children – and not just hear them – it makes a huge difference in how their personality builds up. They become more confident, more communicative, and more emotionally organized when they know that you are giving importance to what they are saying. Many parents mistake ‘listening’ for ‘hearing’ and end up with a distanced, quieter child because the child felt ‘ignored’. You obviously don’t want to make that mistake, so read on to understand the ways that help you be the listener a parent needs to be in order to maintain a healthy parent-child relationship, as well as to encourage healthy psychological development of your precious children.
How to Be A Better Listener?
What are the ways you can listen more attentively, given the short eight-second attention span most people have?
1- Listen for the Lesson, Not for the Manners:
What most people do wrong when it comes to two-way conversations, is that they listen only to wait for their turn to speak, or to not come off as impolite. If you want your child to feel well-attended, you should focus on the moral or central idea of what they are telling you. See how your kid differentiates between the bad and the good people. Listen to the emotions your child has when he speaks about the people in their stories, and see if you should clarify any important lessons highlighted.
2- Maintain Eye Contact:
Obviously, the first step to becoming a better listener is to pay attention to. If you are using your smartphone or looking elsewhere while your child is talking to you, you are giving the impression that you aren’t listening, even if you are. Moreover, you might be thinking that children usually don’t have anything important to say especially when they are talking about video games and other activities, but it is the child’s right to be listened to regardless of how irrelevant their conversations are, because those conversations are relevant to their self-esteem and your relation with them.
3- Repeat the Important Points
Your child just told you a long story about how his teacher appreciated his artwork in front of the whole class. That is an achievement for him. He might have given too many details, because children do focus on a lot of detail, but once he is done telling you everything, make it a practice to summarize his whole story for two reasons: One, that he would feel happier knowing you listened to him and remembered everything; and two, to clear out any misunderstandings or points you might have missed.
4- Ask Questions Once in A While
It is a common saying that, “One who asks a question is a fool for a while, and one who never asks a question is a fool for ever.” Also, when you actually listen to someone attentively, you will have questions about details popping in your mind. When your child is talking to you, ask occasional questions like, “Really? What happened then?” or “Interesting. How do you feel about that now?” It encourages a friendly communication making the child more comfortable to open up to you.
5- Talk Less, Listen More:
Have you ever come across those people who keep interrupting what you’re saying because they apparently have a lot more to say? Don’t be those people. It is extremely important for you to identify your listen/talk ratio. An ideal listener would be someone who talks 1 minute to every 2 minutes of listening i.e. talk for only half of the duration of the listening time without interrupting the talker’s dialogue.
6- Focus on Your Body Language:
It’s true, even children can understand what your body language is telling them. They know when you are angry without having you tell them about it, and they know when you’re attentive without your verbal confirmation about it. Lean in, a nod to what they are saying, and don’t be afraid to express emotions. Laugh when the child tells you something funny, pull them closer to you if they tell you about an event that disturbed them, and nod for the general details.
7- Listen and Tell:
It is a common experience that when people hear stories with the intention of re-telling them to someone else, they usually remember things better. Think of gossips – they go around so fast because people take an interest in listening to them so that they can tell others! By giving that important to your child’s conversations, you can become a better listener and retain what they tell you. Who knows? Maybe you will be telling others about your kid, like their achievements etc?
8- Be Open-minded and Accepting:
Listening without judging or criticizing is a skill. It will come with practice, but it is important for you to learn this skill. If you criticize or disapprove of anything your child tells you, you will only cut them off and discourage their communication skills. It is better for you to listen to your child, then teach them politely about anything that you would disapprove of and explain the reason behind it, too.
There are numerous times that parents feel like they are unable to give their children the attention they deserve. By becoming a better listener, you can actually become a better parent.