Parents should make sure that they can properly listen to children. When parents listen to children, then it is likely for children to listen to parents as well. When listening to children, parents need to patient. There are plenty of benefits in having proper listening skill, when dealing with children:
- Children will feel loved and wanted. They will feel as an important part of the family.
- Encouraging healthy discussion
- Establishing a way to handle conflicts
- Establishing a relationship based on understanding and trust
- Giving children the confidence to express their problems and feelings
- Creating a pattern of positive listening. Children will replicate the same pattern later in their lives
There are plenty of drawbacks if you don’t have the proper listening habit at home:
- Children will feel that their opinions are irrelevant in the family. They feel lack of respect.
- Children will feel social seclusion, even in their own family. This causes them to become less communicative
- Children will express their opinions elsewhere, which will be risky for their social relationships
- Children will start to communicate too late, making them to have troubled teenage years
- Children will become reserved, with higher probability of temper tantrum
Parents should know how to listen effectively. Here are things that they should do:
- Maintain eye contact. When listening to smaller children, hold their hands or make other physical contacts.
- Don’t interrupt. Some children have trouble expressing their opinions. You should give children time to articulate their thoughts.
- Restate their opinions in your own words. Ask children whether you understand their thoughts properly. You should listen to children to fully understand them, not just to appease them.
- If children are expressing their problem, let them work through a solution. If they can’t find the solution, make an agreement to reassess the situation the next day. Don’t try to give children readymade solutions and let them to come up with their own ideas.
- Don’t give advices too soon, unless children ask for them. When giving advice, make sure to keep it to the point and keep it short. Your primary goal is to listen and understand children and not to talk too much
- Never accuse children of being ridiculous and silly. If you continue to behave like this, you could already burn the bridge of communication.
After you know how to listen to children properly, you should do the following to make the listening process more effective:
- Talk to children at regular time each day. It could be during breakfast or dinner, even if it’s only five minutes. You can also talk while doing other tasks, such as driving or walking. You shouldn’t talk while the television is on.
- Encourage children to listen to parents too. However, you should do this only if children are aware that you are an excellent listener.
- Never wait too long to listen to children, until they throw tantrums.
- Check their body language. You can notice problems if children push around food and have drooping shoulders. When problems are brewing, you shouldn’t let it to boil over.