- Janice Gold Beyer
Active Listening with your Child
What is my child feeling and thinking about today? Through conversation we can connect with and understand what is on our children's minds.
You might wonder, what is my child feeling and thinking about today? What sense are they making of their immediate experience and the greater world around them. Through conversation we can connect with and understand what is on our children’s minds and what is in their hearts. When children are heard they feel understood, accepted and trusted. In turn, they learn to understand, accept and trust other people. Keen listening skills are in the fertile soil from which meaningful conversation can grow. This seems to be an excellent time for all of us to cultivate the delicate art of listening.
What is the recipe for creating an environment in which conversation with your child is likely to occur? It begins with time. Create moments when you can be fully present to your child, without distractions. Add in “active listening.” At the heart of active listening is empathy; the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. By fully understanding your child’s feelings and appreciating their perspectives you convey the important message that you are “with them.” When actively listening, you are approaching the conversation with nonjudgmental acceptance of their feelings and experiences. Listening without judgment can open conversations up to exploration, which often leads to answers and, perhaps, further questions. Listening without criticism or advice-giving, but rather with responses that reflect your child’s feelings and thoughts enables you to be a guide in the conversation. This sends the message that you believe in their ability to solve their problem. Sprinkle a generous helping of patience throughout the entire conversation. Finally, add the optional, but highly recommended drizzle of respectful humor and fun.