10 tips to promote active listening in your children

Active listening involves attitudes and skills that sometimes arise and develop in a very natural way. Other times, it is necessary to practice them frequently.

Last update: September 13, 2022

Active listening is a technique, but also an attitude in your children. As a technique, involves the ability to pay attention to what another person is sayingwithout trying to judge her. As an attitude, it supposes the capacity to understand what the other tells us, from the point of view of the person speaking to us.

Good communication patterns in the family and beyond include teaching children active listening. When parents practice it, they make them feel recognized, understood and valued. It is essential to maintain an open, honest and respectful channel.

If it is instilled from when children are young, it avoids many conflicts and misunderstandings when they reach adolescence.

Active listening in children and its importance

Active listening is one of the most important elements to favor the psychosocial development of children. Apply this attitude during parenting strengthens the self-esteem of children and also increases their well-being. It forms a firm foundation for mental health.

This way of listening supposes a high empathy and allows to connect in a deep way with the other. At the same time, it is a fundamental factor in conflict resolution through dialogue.

Active listening of children is a skill that develops as it is practiced. It is important for parents to keep it in mind in their parenting style. If they transmit it, their children will be more tolerant, open to other ways of thinking and will have more tools to solve difficulties.

The best tips to promote active listening in your children

Active listening is taught by example. This is the best way to promote it in your children. There are a number of communication guidelines that should be applied and others that are best avoided. Let’s see.

Adolescence can be affected if children did not learn to practice active listening as children.

1. Have the psychological disposition

Parents must have a genuine intention to practice active listening with their children. Not because they feel it is their duty.

Good psychological disposition is key so that they can listen authentically. It is best to avoid any relevant conversation if the mood is not conducive.

2. Use body language

In active listening, body language is very important. Messages are sent through this. Some aspects to take into account are the following:

  • Catching up with the child: Everything flows much better if a position is adopted in which the child and his parents can see each other face to face.
  • Establish eye contact: you have to look into the eyes of the person who is speaking.
  • physical contact: holding the child’s hand or touching his shoulder sends a message of affection and trust.
  • Pay attention to the child’s body language: he also communicates with his expressions and gestures.

3. Ask open questions

Open questions help clarify communication, both from the speaker and the listener. Closed questions, on the other hand, limit and reduce the conversation. It is better to ask the child “what do you mean with…?”instead of “What you mean is that…”.

4. Paraphrase and summarize

Paraphrasing means quoting the other with words similar to those used. It is a way of showing that you pay attention to what is said.

Similarly, summarizing what was said is a good way to steer the dialogue towards more effective communication. Both tools are very useful in active listening with your children.

5. Smile and nod

The child is very sensitive to the facial expressions of his parents and any authority figure. Showing a smile and nodding is a way of acknowledging and to accept what he is saying. This tacit approval is a necessary basis for the little one to express with sincerity and confidence what he thinks and feels.

6. Avoid interruptions and distractions

Active listening fails to materialize if there is a context in which there are interruptions or distractions. The phone or other devices are not invited to a conversation.

7. Do not judge or minimize experiences

The basis of active listening is the renunciation of value judgments.

It is about seeing reality from the other’s point of view. You don’t have to rate it right or wrong. Nor downplay what you feel or think.

8. Do not reproach or interrupt

Giving lectures or telling the child what we don’t like about him is the perfect way to break communication and drive him away. Active listening is just the opposite.

Many parents, for the supposed good of their children, start a conversation with them, but give them a lecture. This is not appropriate, nor is it appropriate to interrupt him while he is speaking.

9. Do not counter

If the child says something with which the parent does not agree, the way out is not to dispute him, but to try to understand his point of view. Starting a controversy takes the dialogue elsewhere.

Instead of promoting active listening, what is achieved is to deepen the differences. Perhaps, it also makes them insurmountable.

Dialogue with active listening does not judge or interrupt. There is a space of sincerity and mindfulness in the moment.

10. Avoid the “expert syndrome”

The “expert syndrome” occurs when the father or mother adopt the attitude of offering their children ways out, even before they understand what the problem is that have. Also when they try to act as psychologists, explaining to the boys the causes of their behaviors and telling them how they should understand them and what they should do.

A matter of practice and disposition

Parents are a mirror for children. Far beyond what they say, the boys will take into account what their parents do. Therefore, to promote active listening in children, the first thing is to internalize its principles and apply them.

Active listening is not an isolated act, but a process. In families where there is already good communication, this technique takes hold and deepens. The more it is practiced, the more natural the way it occurs.

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