Young children have a very short span of concentration. They get distracted easily and it is quite expected from them (they are kids!) It is our responsibility as adults to inculcate the right listening skills in our children. Listening is one activity that we tend to perform most of the time when we are not doing anything else. But there is a huge difference between listening and hearing and it should be well understood by our children. Listening is active while hearing is passive. If we are listening but we do not understand clearly the instructions or if we get distracted during the course of a conversation, it implies we were not listening intently, and are just hearing. In such a case, we will not be able to repeat what we just heard, then it becomes hearing. It means that when we hear what is being said to us but do not pay attention to it or are not able to perform as directed; we just lend the voice our ears without listening to it carefully. Children are not born gifted with the skill of listening. It is we, the parents who develop this skill in our children in the below mentioned ways:
Read aloud to your child when we read out something to our children they tend to hear it and gradually develop the habit of listening. The process becomes fast, if the content that we read out is of their choice and fascinates them.
Say stories or fairy tales etc. Let him participate in the conversation encourage your child to listen with concentration by asking him questions in between. If you ask him anything that is related to the story read out to him and he answers the questions, you know that he is listening to you carefully.
You can also quote day to day examples to make him comprehend situations and actions. This will help him relate to the topic better.
Tell him to repeat the instructions If you instruct your child to do anything, before he leaves to follow your instructions make him repeat what you said. This will encourage him to listen.
Teach your child the meaning of active listening. Tell your child that if he is listening actively, then it should be reflected from his behaviour and his gestures.
You can also inculcate the below manners for developing your child’s listening skills:
He should nod his head to enable the person speaking know that he is interested. He should sit still and not move around here and there.
If he leans towards the speaker, it shows his interest in his speech.
Never interrupt in between. Let the person finish his statement and then go in for any clarifications that you require.
If he is able to understand the speaker completely and follow his instructions, then his task of active listening is complete.
We cannot expect our children to do all this in one go. They need some time to develop this habit of listening. But by telling them the advantages of listening we can boost them to acquire the habit easily. When they know that when they listen carefully, they are able to do what is expected of them and there are fewer chances of mistakes and they will be in the good books of their parents, teachers, friends and relatives. This will not only help develop their personality but they will also be balanced in thought and action.