Advice Column, Parenting

The Art Of Listening To Your Child

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Listening to your child is an invaluable skill that forms part of your child’s social, emotional and life skills. This allows them to have a holistic and healthy development in their early years.

There are a few questions around listening that will help you understand more about listening:

  1.  Does your child hear or listen?
  2. Does your child just “hear” or are they listening?
  3. What is your understanding of the concept to listen?

These are essential to your understanding of listening so that you can you’re your child learn effective listening skills.

Hearing or Listening:

Hearing is the ability to use our ears to hear different sounds whilst listening is far more complicated.

Listening is the ability to give meaning to the sounds we hear through speech. Listening is more than just listening to sounds it is our ability to interpret those sounds to give the meaning so that we can comprehend them and responded appropriately.

This means that when we listen we use our minds (the ability to think). This means that we use skills such as understanding, comprehending and interpreting information.

Conversations and Listening:

Listening is essential to having a healthy conversation. Communication is based on the two individuals listening to each other and expressing themselves. The speaker creates and sparks thoughts in the listener’s mind. This inspires them to think and respond in the correct manner. This again links back to the ability to understand emotions/feelings and having the appropriate behaviour to express the feelings. This ability to think and listen must allow the person to create a sense of empathy and understanding of with the other person they are communicating.

  1. “Active Listening”:

“Active” listening is difficult. You can be tired or over stressed and not able to focus but for children this everyday activity is challenging. Active listening means the child must pay attention to the information being said (at school it may be a task, directions or instructions), then remember the information in a sequenced and detailed manner so that they can do the instructions, directions or task as required. This is an intensive pattern to follow and sometimes the information is just too much for the child to retain.

Tips to helping your child:

  • Keep instructions and information being relayed short and simple – level appropriate for your child – and slowly develop their listening ability
  • Be patient and take time
  • Ask your child to repeat back to you what you have said – see if they have understood you correctly – it is best to let them use their own words (it is easy to repeat directly what you have said without understanding)
  • Speak slowly and clearly
  • Occasionally, when speaking add in more information or new a word – see if they have understood and whether they are ready to progress with their “active” listening skills.

Did you know that active listening can become a positive everyday habit?

A few more steps to help you teach your child to develop this skill:

  1. Use eye contact to ensure they are really listening to you
  2. Build on memory skills by playing memory games such as learning rhymes , stories and songs and playing visual memory games – matching cards – (whilst applying words to their actions during the game)
  3. Ask your child to tell you what they are doing – make sure that they use simple sentences and that the sentences match their actions (this also develops speech and sequencing skills).
  4. Use an expressive voice (when reading and when speaking to your child)
  5. Discuss emotions “you must be very frustrated as you do not want to go to bed”. By discussing emotions you are helping your child build a vocabulary to express their feelings.
  6. Practice (learning new “sounds”, “spelling”, etc:) – it is important to revise these even when the child has finished them at school or has mastered the skills
  7. Learning new vocabulary: each day learn a new word, a week later repeat the new word again. Explain the word, use it everyday language (you use and ask your child to use it). Have vocabulary weekly chart where the child can see the new words – if your child is unable to read them – then still post them up in large print and say the words with them every day

These are just some of the things you can do to develop your child’s “active” listening skills and help it become a positive everyday habit – Remember it is important to continue to do these steps on a regular basis.

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  • LIentjie Doubell April 27, 2015 at 4:28 pm

    Very good advice. Wish I had all the information when our children were small. I hope to use it with my grandchildren one day!

    Reply

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