Raising Kids Who REALLY Listen
When it comes to your kids, is it in one ear and out the other? Want to raise kids who really listen? Chances are you do and we’ve got a few tips that can help with this goal in mind. While this list is geared towards encouraging younger children, you can change the phrasing a bit and adapt it for older children and teens
Without further ado, here we go:
1. Listen up! One of the strongest ways that children learn is through modeling behaviors of their parents. You knew this was coming, right?
· When you demonstrate good listening skills in your everyday life in the presence of your kids, they will learn those skills, too. They can see how it's done by watching you.
2. Look away from that cell phone. When you want to communicate with your child, look away from your cell phone or stop your current activity to focus completely on them. Whether they initiate the conversation or you do, stop what you're doing so you can concentrate on your interaction. You have no idea how many kids comment on the fact that their parents don’t even look at them when they talk to them. Don’t be one of those parents.
3. Look into their eyes. In any type of communication, look in the eyes of the person you're talking to and teach your children to do the same.
· A subtle and special connection is made when people make eye contact. You better believe it! This behavior can be taught and picked up by children as young as two years of age.
4. Name game. When you talk to your children, saying their name will help get their attention and set them up to be ready to listen, just like when someone calls your name, you stop what you're doing and look at them.
· Getting your child's attention by stating his name is an effective way to prepare him to hear what you're going to say. That focus is necessary to begin to develop listening skills.
5. Take a seat. This suggestion sends the message, "Get ready to listen because I'm going to talk."
· When your child is very young, try leading him to a chair. Then say something like, "I'd like to talk to you for a minute," which serves as an attention-getter.
· Once you complete what you wanted to express, be ready to listen to your child's response.
6. Check for understanding. From time to time, ask your child what you just said. You're trying to determine what your child heard by asking him to paraphrase what you said. When he repeats it properly, praise his efforts.
· If he doesn't get it quite right, you have an opportunity to repeat what you said for clarification and to enhance his listening skills.
7. Praise attempts at listening. When your child shows the smallest attempt to listen or to even approach listening, it's smart to reinforce those efforts right away. This is the principle of “successive approximation”.
· Even with a 2-year-old, you can encourage their listening skills by saying, "Thank you for sitting so quietly while Mommy was talking," or, "You were really listening to Daddy, thank you."
· After a conversation, simple responses, such as smiling while you say, "Great job on listening," also let your kids know they exhibited the important behavior you were seeking.
Promoting your child's listening abilities is best done in small ways every single day. As a parent, you're the best role model for teaching your children communication skills. Reward their efforts with smiles and positive comments, and you're on your way to building their listening skills for a successful future.
For more ways to build strong communication and social skills with your children, check out this MP3 download from Child Psych Central with Dr. Beth Onufrak and me, and try BLOOM parenting techniques. It could just change everything!