Each day children watch, hear and experience new things and they want to speak out what and how they feel about these new things. They find it extremely difficult to hold those little surprises, emotions and experiences within their little hearts. They are over excited to speak out all that.
All they want is a good listener, so that they can pour out all they have in their little hearts.
What if their own parents listen to them? perfect!
But if a child doesn’t get enough opportunity to speak out his emotions and little experiences, these unspoken words, emotions and experience remain unsatisfied, keep steaming up in the little heart and cook something else which later manifests in some other undesirable manner.
The distance between parents and children keeps on increasing … and then we complain of misbehavior.
Most of kids’ complaints dilute just by listening to them. All we need to do is let them speak as much they want and just listen to them patiently with an open mind. This satisfies their sense of importance as well and certainly improves the parent child relationship.
Do parents listen to their children?
Listening is the most basic communication skills, yet most parents are not good listeners. They never think it important to listen to their kids and then complain of their kids not listening to them. They are busy preaching their kids and telling them to do this or that. When the kids want to share their little thoughts, feelings, experiences, these parents find them childish and useless, stop them immediately and order them to do chores or studies.
They are practically deaf to their kids’ inner voice, and behave more like a dictator and less like a parent. All they do is talking and make the child listen, which should be the other way round. This brings complete communication breakdown between parents and kids.
Effect? … This arouses resentment in kids.
Result? … kids misbehave and go out of discipline.
If your child is out of discipline and you can’t understand why, it simply means you don’t know you child enough. This is because you never listened to your child to peep into his heart to see what is happening there. We can’t connect with our kids unless we listen to them a lot. Talking is fun for children and parents need to listen to them.
How to be a good listener
Here are some tips for parents on listening skill and communication with children:
- Mind your body language
- Acknowledge kid’s words and emotions
- Undivided attention
- Get involved
- Encourage children to talk
- Do not interrupt
- Don’t be in a hurry to finish listening
1. Mind your body language
Remember! Most of our emotions are reflected through our body language. So better we mind our body language. Straighten the skin folds on your forehead, relax facial muscles, eye-brows, and other body muscles. Come close to the child, smile and look into his eyes. But don’t stare so hard that the child becomes uncomfortable. Pat on his back or give him a hug, or touch him affectionately. If you find it difficult, just smile. It makes the environment comfortable for the child. It also adds great emotional value to your communication with the child. Maintain the right body language and look into his eyes. Your body language should show that you are deeply interested in listening to your child.
2. Acknowledge kid’s words and emotions
Mere silence is not listening. It has to be something more than that. Keep sending him messages that you are listening to them intensely. How to do that? Acknowledge their feelings with the words- “oh” , “Mnn” …”, “I see” etc. and do it genuinely. Ask relevant questions. Do not fake.
3. Undivided attention
Remember how did we used to attend a girl-friend or boy-friend in younger days? We focused all our senses on him/her. Everything else was an interruption.
That’s undivided attention!
Most of the times what kids say is meaningless to us or not important enough to focus on. But for the child, it is like a UN conference. To the child, those are burning issues of his small world.
If you don’t pay attention, you are like a deaf and indifferent ruling party of his small country. This attitude would certainly ignite resentment in his heart. No wonderful he would be disobedient and defiant next time.
So pay full and undivided attention to him. Kids know when we are listening to them and when we are just pretending to listen.
If you don’t give undivided attention to kids, you are not communicating with kids at all. You are not in talking terms with them. Talking just to the point as and when necessary and just to remain under a roof is not communication.
While talking to kids, don’t do anything else at all. Let nothing come in the way of you and your kids when those not so important things are being discussed.
Stop what ever you are doing and listen to the child. This shows how much you love the child and how much is the child important to you.
4. Get involved
You can’t listen to kids attentively and intensely unless you are genuinely interested and involved in something the kid is talking about. It just won’t work. Parental involvement in the communication is a must.
You can do it only when you:
- see the things from child’s point of view.
- Feel what the child is telling you.
- Feel as if the same thing is happening with you.
- Feel as if you saw it with your own eyes and felt his emotion yourself.
- Actively participate in the discussion.
- express surprises and curiosity.
Once you are involved, your communication with the kids gets on to auto-pilot. Kids enjoy it.
Remember! Kids can sense it. They can tell you if you are listening to them or just pretending to listen.
5. Encourage children to talk
Encourage children to talk … about anything they want. Their words make the largest window to their heart. You can see almost everything lying there through this window. Yet, most of us choose to keep this window shut.
- Ask simple questions that the children would enjoy answering.
- Encourage them to tell an event with more expression, emotions, colors and mimicry and more.
- Encourage them to talk about their little achievements, and they will jump out of their soul to tell you so many things.
- If you think they have difficulty in finding words, give them the right words.
6. Do not interrupt
Children have a special way of telling things. They break one simple sentences in so many parts, and repeat them quite often. They take a long time telling a small thing, which is irritating. Plus there are so many occasions when you disagree and tempted to interrupt. But don’t interrupt. Why? Because:
- You’ll break their natural flow of emotions.
- They might not pay attention to you because tons of words and expressions are dying to come out of them.
- Your interruption might begin an argument.
Just give them more space to expand and express their emotions and expression. No annoying cross questions please.
7. Don’t be in a hurry to finish it
If you are in a hurry to finish listening to your child, he suspects your sincerity and thinks that you are listening to him just for the sake of doing it. He ignores your expressions and gets alert when ever you listen to him next, even if you are doing it genuinely this time.