Active Listening

Growing YearsActive listening is a skill every parent needs. When you use active listening with your child, it shows that you care. By using this skill, you will know more about what’s going on in your child’s life.

Active listening is a must for good communication, and will result in your child involving you in his/her life, even in teen years.

To be an active listener, you should:

– Look at the speaker. Sit up straight or lean forward slightly to show your attentive through body language, making eye contact.

– Give your full attention. Stop what you are doing and listen. Allow your child to finish and do not interrupt.

– Give your complete focus to the child. Don’t plan what you will say, just listen.

– Respond to show you understand. Raise your eyebrows, nod and say words such as “really,” “interesting,” and “then what happened?”

– Keep an open mind. Try not to make assumptions and judgments.

– Avoid interjecting personal experiences, or defending yourself.

– Wait until your child has finished and then ask questions for clarification. Paraphrase their points to make sure you didn’t misunderstand. Start with: “So you’re saying…”

– Be empathetic. Empathy is the listener’s desire and effort to understand the child’s point of view. The empathetic listener tries to get inside the other’s thoughts and feelings. The idea is to obtain an understanding of the situation. Empathy is difficult to achieve. We all have a want to advise, tell, agree, or disagree from our own point of view.

Active listening is not the same thing as agreeing. You can understand another person’s point of view without agreeing with it. When you listen to your child it builds self-esteem. Listening makes him/her feel worthy, appreciated, interesting, and respected. Ordinary conversations emerge on a deeper level, as do relationships. When you listen, you foster the skill in your child by acting as a model for positive and effective communication. Showing that you will take time out to listen lets your child know that you’re available and interested in what he/she has to say.