5 Ways To Really Listen To Your Kids
Parents generally consider themselves to be good listeners, but we may actually be practicing bad listening habits, without even knowing it. Here are some tips for improving your listening habit.
1. Be patient. Respect that sometimes your kids will feel like talking, and sometimes they won’t. Don’t try to pry anything out of them; you probably don’t like it and neither do they.
2. Make eye contact, face your child when s/he is talking, and keep your body language open. Crossed arms, a frown, or other “closed” body language may suggest to your kids that you disapprove of what they’re saying.
3. Asking questions is great because it shows that you are interested and really want to understand, but don’t start questions with the word why. Why questions usually lead people to feel defensive.
4. Set aside some regular time to be with each of your children. This regular contact will increase their comfort with you, and increase the likelihood that they’ll want to open up. It’s never too early (or too late) to start!
5. Statements that are meant to be supportive, such as, “Don’t worry, things will be better tomorrow,” or “You have lots of friends,” have a way of backfiring, as your child is likely to interpret them to mean that you don’t really understand how serious the problem is to him or her. Instead continue to listen and offer your understanding as your way of showing support.
Being heard and understood is a gift, one which our children appreciate as much as we do!