Talking and listening to your child holds a lot of importance, as it helps your child build a bond with you and develop his trust. It improves the bonding in a relationship and builds a child’s confidence.
Listening is not an easy task, as a parent you would be tempted to raise your voice and tell your child he is wrong. Your child may say something that challenges your views 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?
- Use your body language to show you’re listening. For example, face your child and make eye contact. If your child likes to talk while doing activities, you can show you’re listening by turning to look at your child and getting close to them.
- Watch your child’s facial expressions and body language. Listening isn’t just about hearing words, but also about trying to understand what’s behind those words.
- Build on what your child is telling you and show your interest by saying things like ‘Tell me more about …’, ‘Really!’ and ‘Go on …’.
- Repeat or rephrase what your child has said from time to time. This lets your child know you’re listening and helps you check what your child is saying.
- Try not to jump in, cut your child off, or finish sentences – even when your child says something strange or is having trouble finding words.
- Don’t rush into problem-solving. Your child might just want you to listen, and to feel that their feelings and point of view matter.
- Prompt your child to tell you how they feel by describing what you think they’re feeling – for example, ‘It sounds like you felt left out when Felix wanted to play with those other kids at lunch’. Be prepared to get this wrong and ask your child to help you understand.
Coach Benjamin Mizrahi. Educator. Learning Specialist. Family Coach. Father. Husband.
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