You Hear Me, But Are You Listening!?!
Ask any parent what they struggle with the most with their kids and the most common thing you will probably hear is that they just won’t listen. As babies grow into toddlers and toddlers into small children, there are so many skills they develop and concepts they learn. It can be difficult mastering everything you need to know before starting preschool or kindergarten, but sometimes it reaches a point of getting out of hand.
Teaching your child to be a good and active listener is essential if you want them to grow up to be successful in life. As hard as it may seem, enduring those few days or weeks of back sass and tantrums while teaching good listening skills, those are nothing compared to a lifetime of issues if they aren’t taught to be good listeners from a young age.
The key to successfully teaching your child to be a good listener is to be consistent, just like when teaching any other important life skill. If you ask them to listen three times and they still won’t and on the fourth time you mention possible consequences, you need to follow up in enforcing those consequences if they still choose not to listen.
As a teacher, I experience children who lack the proper listening skills more often than I’d like. I find that children have great difficulty with active listening. Many times, they will raise their hand while I am still speaking. I just don’t understand how they can be listening when they’re already thinking about what they want to ask me.
Good listening requires you to give someone your undivided attention. Even when you are tempted to interrupt, it is polite to listen and wait until the other person is done talking to respond.
When a student has poor listening skills, it consumes a lot of time because I am required to repeat myself and this opens up the possibility of missing important information.
Young children are more apt to being easily distracted and this causes their minds to wander. To combat this, one must make directions clear and then ask the child to repeat what was heard so they fully understand what they are supposed to be doing.
Many times, your child may not realize they aren’t properly listening to you. Studies have shown that while many people consider themselves good listeners, less than half are considered effective or active listeners.
In order to be an active listener, one must absorb all of the information given to them, show that they are listening and interested and provide feedback to the other person so that person knows their message was received and understood.
This can be difficult to achieve as a child due to short attention spans. As difficult as it may seem, there are certainly ways to make this learning process easier for everybody.
When trying to get your little one’s attention, make sure they aren’t distracted by the television or other activity. Have them make eye contact with you while you are talking and when you are finished, ask them if they understand what you said. This also goes for you as well. Instead of hollering down the hall from the kitchen while they’re in their bedroom, make the effort to go talk to them face-to-face.
Set a good example
Like any other concept you are trying to teach, leading by example is the best way to go. From birth, your child is watching what you do and how you react to certain situations. When they see the same behavior over and over again, they will start to mimic that behavior. If you are only half-listening to what somebody is saying and it’s obvious, then your child is going to follow in your footsteps.
When speaking to your child, be direct with them. When it is time to do homework, rather than saying “why don’t we get started on your homework,” you must say “it is time for homework now.” When you put it directly, you are demanding an action and your child may be more apt to following through.
These are just three of many very important things to keep in mind when teaching listening skills. To see a full list, you can check out this article.
The bottom line is, if you want your child to grow up being successful in life and having healthy relationships with others, teaching them to be good and active listeners is vital to achieve that goal.