Effective Listening

by Annie

listenI often talk about the importance of  really listening to your child.  To me, really listening means actively and reflectively listening to what your child is saying.

It sounds simple, doesn’t it? But, all too often as we listen, we quickly spin off into our own thoughts and interpret what we hear. Then we start to frame an answer, to solve our child’s problem for them, even before they’ve even finished telling us!

Do you find yourself doing that? I know I do.

Why do we go into our own thoughts instead of staying present with what our child is saying?

Often it’s because we want to save them! We want to soften their load and save them from hurt, but what we can actually end up doing is diminish their opportunity for self growth, hinder their problem-solving skills and lessen their independence.

How do you listen effectively to your child?

Communicating with your child, with anyone for that matter, can go wrong in so many ways that it’s a wonder that we understand each other at all. Some people are good at one side of the communication equation and not the other. Great at talking and not listening, for example.

And even if we are generally good listeners, the stress of our fast-paced modern life, can often render the best of us, unable to focus on the things that are really important, like our child’s self-esteem.

Developing Effective Listening Skills

According to Anne Kotzman in her informative book, Listen To Me, Listen To You: A practical guide to improving self-esteem, listening skills and assertiveness, there are three main clusters of skills involved in listening attending, following and reflecting.

Simply put, in order to listen effectively you need to be present in the moment and give your child your full attention. Next you need to show empathetic silence and finally restate in your own words your child’s words/feelings showing your understanding.

That’s it, no rescueing!

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