8 Reasons to Listen to Your Child: Discover Why Attentive Listening is Important for Children
The demands placed on families today are greater than ever. Everyone’s expected to be a critical thinking, problem solving super hero these days. Juggling work schedules, parenting, household chores, daycare ….it’s no wonder parents are feeling stretched to the limit and disconnected in the fast-paced, high-tech world we live in. Many feel they have to continue that frenetic pace at home. But what does this do to our family life, especially our children?
We all know that listening to our kids is important. However, it’s not just about hearing words. Here are eight reasons why attentive listening is important for our children and why being patient, accepting, and engaged can make all the difference in their daily lives.
Strengthens Your Bond
Children may not always remember what we say or do but they do remember how we make them feel. This is especially important for young children who are constantly learning how to navigate the world by taking cues from Mom and Dad. Actively engaging in conversation, patient listening, and allowing them the time to express themselves at their own pace creates a safe place for them to speak up and find their own voice which will be very important in later years.
Encourages Open Communication
If children experience early on that their thoughts, feelings, and opinions have value, they are more likely to continue to share these well into their teenage years. Start early and commit to a tech-free time during some part of your daily routine, meaning no computer or phone so conversation occurs without distraction. It’s much easier to make this the norm rather than the exception when kids are little and you have the most control over their daily lives.
Teaches by Example
Children model our behaviors and are following our lead long before they take their first steps. Being good listeners ourselves increases the chance that they too will show us the same respect and appreciation in return. Setting the example teaches positive habits which they can take on themselves.
Builds a Sense of Self
When a child feels he or she is a priority, self-esteem grows. Today, they know from an early age that time is of a premium based on what they see and feel in hectic family schedules. Setting aside a regular time where kids can get undivided, one-on-one attention builds self-worth and makes them feel valued.
Engage in attentive listening when communicating and listen with intent to understand, not just intent to reply (Stephen R. Covey, childhood101.com). Attentive listening includes asking open-ended questions which encourages a dialogue between parent and child. This lets your child know you are engaged and present in the conversation.
Creates Emotional Awareness
Research suggests that families who repeatedly eat together at the dinner table without cellphones or television have children who are well-adjusted and less likely to experience anxiety and depression throughout their lives. Maintaining this regular connection promotes communication that allows parents to gain insight as to what’s going on in a child’s daily life….is she happy or distressed; did he have a good day?
Develops Social Skills
Regularly talking with your child gives them practice in dealing with the outside world and helps them to develop positive social relationships. Children learn that a conversation involves not only speaking but listening. Learning that relationships involve give and take teaches cooperative problem solving, how to be a good friend, and that it’s okay to walk away from a situation if nothing else seems to be working; and most importantly, that it’s okay to ask for help.
Promotes Exchange of Ideas
Children are creative and naturally think out of the box because they have a unique perspective of the world. When we’re little, for a time everything is new and seen with fresh eyes. Unfortunately because of their inexperience, sometimes children’s ideas are automatically dismissed. Don’t make this mistake. It is only by being engaged and talking to your kids that this exchange takes place. Remember to listen attentively!
The temptation to “fix” things at every turn and to keep the pace moving for efficiency’s sake is great, but when it comes to our children a different approach is needed. Everyone can benefit from taking a breath, slowing the pace, and listening to what the little people in our lives have to say.