Listening, as it is, is a difficult thing. And to think of listening to your child seems a daunting task. Is it important to listen to your child? Add to that the fact that when the child needs to be listened to, you may have another 1000 things running on your mind wanting you to just jump off your seat right now.
However, research states that listening to your kids makes it more likely that they listen to you (which most of us want). When a child feels listened to, he is more likely to listen, and having been understood, he will understand your point of view too. It helps parents and children form stronger bonds and relationships, and builds their self-esteem.
Talking and listening to your child hold a lot of importance. It helps your child build a bond with you and develop his trust in you. Listening improves the bonding in a relationship and builds a child’s confidence. Not many parents have the skill to ‘listen’, but with a conscious effort, they can develop it. And slowly, with practice, you can master it as well.
When you are trying to talk or communicate with your child, you should:
Listening is not an easy task. As a parent, you will feel tempted to raise your voice and tell your child they are wrong. It takes a lot of patience to really hear out someone, let alone a child, as you may get to hear something that you are not happy about.
Your child may say something that challenges your view or beliefs, or you may hear something that will make you want to change, or it may disrupt what you think. And that is why it is important to develop listening skills in yourself first, before getting your child to talk to you. And how do you do this?
Without you being even aware of it, your day-to-day behavior affects your child in many ways, shaping his or her future personality. As parents, you influence your child’s life intentionally or unintentionally or both.
From the tone of your voice to the words you choose, your child learns the skills necessary to interact with you – as parents are essentially a child’s first teacher. Children who are not heard become the ones who never listen. They will always be under the impression that they are unworthy of your time and attention.
Whatever they do, think, or feel is negative. They lose confidence and self-esteem, which can be detrimental to their development as young adults. A child who is often judged or criticized loses interest in sharing and communicating and ends up being bottled, alone, and aloof.
Some kids are naturally expressive, and they talk everything out, while others may need a lot of encouragement to be able to speak with you. The first thing is to be open to listening and give your child your unfocused attention.
Here are some tips on getting your child to talk to you and be open to listening:
Set aside a time when you both can talk to each other without any interference. If face-to-face talk seems difficult, go for a walk and take some time to chat. Else, take your child for a drive and let them sit in the back seat and have a conversation.
Be receptive and open to all kinds of feelings without getting angry or frustrated. Remember that conversations will not always be positive, but also include negative topics like anger, fear and anxiety.
Remember that children do have the same maturity as adults do. Think of the times when you were a child and how difficult it was to communicate when you have so much running in your mind but do not have enough words.
Do not be in a hurry to respond. Let your child finish talking and then respond sensitively. When your child is talking, do not jump in or interfere. Never try to put your words in your child’s mouth. Never ever yell.
Refrain from lecturing. Lecturing is one way of putting your view across, while an engaging conversation fosters their own thinking process and conclusions.
Make the conversations, inspiring for your child. Stories are a perfect way to inspire young kids. Always emphasize the positive.
Use language that your child will understand. Avoid using words that they may find difficult to comprehend. Avoid using slang or complicated words – talk in the same way as your child does.
Let your child know that you are listening to them. Repeat what they say and make eye contact. Show your interest in the conversation. Being actively involved in the conversation is extremely important to let your child know that his views and opinions matter.
Never judge, criticize, blame or get angry over something that your child has done or said. Work together as a team to solve your problems.
When you listen to your child, you get to know what they are thinking, feeling, and going through. Childhood is a difficult phase, and with limited vocabulary, children often find it difficult to communicate their feelings.
It is imperative that children be heard so that they do not bottle up their feelings. It also means that your children will listen to you more because they have been heard. This opens up avenues for healthy conversations, which are fruitful and bring parents and children closer.
Yes, they can. They may not do it like you and me but they do it in their own way.
Yes, it will. They might become withdrawn. They might not learn to express themselves.
Set aside a few minutes a day. Let them tell you anything. Create a safe space for communication.
Yes, it can. When they feel unheard, they might change. They might get aggressive to get attention.
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