Listening is an important part of good communication and it becomes more significant when the communication is between a parent and a child. Active listening when your child is speaking means paying attention to every word, that he or she utters. It also means making an inference about what is being said.
Every parent would say that this listening to a child is an easy job and they do it everyday. However, parents usually forget the procedure of active listening after spending a busy day at work and often feel annoyed when a child starts narrating his day’s activities.
Active listening involves looking at the child with interest and focusing on his eyes. Concentrate on the child’s body language including movements and hand gestures. Also, try to pay attention to the tone of the child’s voice to infer whether he is excited, sad, happy, worried or upset.
Let the child finish his entire sentence or a problem he wants fixed. Then suggest a solution or simply reply to what is being asked. Sometimes, children only want to be heard; they are not really looking for a reply or a solution. If your child is telling a joke, laugh wholeheartedly, and if he wants to share some of his own ideas, give your child an honest opinion. This is possible only if you listen actively.
Children also want their stories to be echoed back by their parents later on in their own words. It is not difficult to produce the same story again if you have been listening intently. Try to bring emotion to your voice even when you feel the need to scold your child. If your tone is flat and expressionless, your child would not take it seriously.
It is very important to understand your child’s psychology to provide him with a satisfactory answer. Children want to be treated as adults. Even if you have something difficult to say, do not hesitate. You will be surprised at how easily your child is able to understand it. This means that you do not always have to say the right thing, or try to bring forth the positive aspects of a matter. Understand the problem fully and then think of one of your own experiences to provide a reply.
If your child is not very expressive and always try to avoid confrontations, start a conversation yourself. Many parents would find it a relief that their child is not a chatterbox, but too much introversion is not a healthy sign. Try to ask different questions to receive the best response and listen intently to whatever your child has to say.
Encourage your child to tell you each and everything that happened that day even if he has to write it down and leave it at your desk. If your work does not allow you to stay at home very often, be informed of your child’s interests and activities by sending him emails or pasting questions on the refrigerator to be answered later on.
Remember that it is your duty to tell your child what is right and what is wrong. Active listening is very important to discover how your child thinks and if there is a need to change that thinking.