Are you often impressed by children who listen well…but secretly wonder how their parents achieved this?
As a parent, you strive to teach your children skills that will benefit them into adulthood. Among these life lessons are learning to communicate efficiently and how to be a good listener. They interact with their parents and acquire other valuable abilities.
Did you know that your children’s hearing abilities started before they were born? An article published by Pregnancy, Birth & Baby shares that as early as 18 weeks, a fetus can hear the many life sounds of their mother’s body. In 12 more weeks, states the article can recognize sounds and voices from outside of the womb.
Do children who listen to their parent’s voices in utero have an advantage? According to an article published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, studies suggest that fetuses may learn to recognize words before birth. Brain studies demonstrate that unborn babies can also be receptive to music.
Teaching Your Children Good Listening Skills
As you hold that bundle of joy in your arms, they’ve already had a jumpstart in hearing. Now, you can help them develop skills to become a good listener. Here are some of the most effective ways to teach your children how to be good listeners.
You are your child’s first and foremost influencer, and they will usually mimic your lead. So, if you want children who listen well, you must be a good listener yourself. The next time they are conversing with you, notice how well you listen and interact with them.
You can teach your child good manners and listening skills by not interrupting them when they’re speaking with you. They will respect that and will do the same for you and others. Be aware of how you are talking to your children and let them follow your example.
2. Offer Praise and Encouragement
It’s easy for parents to point out things that their children do wrong quickly. Children do need loving guidance from you to correct their behavior. However, they also need your praise when they are doing the right thing.
When you hear and observe your kids using good listening skills, let them know how proud they make you. Try saying something like, “Hey, I like how you are listening to your little brother and caring about what he has to say.”
Words of praise can prompt your child to continue the good behavior and make it a habit.
3. Use Storytime For Teachable Moments
One of the easiest ways to teach your younger kids to listen is to read books together. Even toddlers enjoy sitting with you to look at pictures and listen as you weave an exciting tale. Find books and tell fun stories that match their age and attention span.
After you’ve shared the story, talk about it. Not only will you gain some valuable insight into their opinions, but you will also notice their listening skills. Another benefit is that you’re helping foster a love for reading that will follow them into adulthood.
4. Make Listening a Fun Game
You can also encourage good listening skills by playing games, especially with younger kids. Get the gang together and play the classic game of “Telephone.” Gather in a circle, and you start by whispering a funny statement in one kid’s ear.
Then, that child whispers what you said into another’s ear, and it repeats until it gets back to you. Everyone will probably laugh at how the statement was misheard and interpreted. Discuss the fact that some errors were caused by not hearing whispers well, while others may lack listening. How could this work in real life?
5. Provide Simple Instructions
Children who listen do better when you tell them what to do rather than what not to do. For example: “Joey, stop running down the stairs!” is a command with no rationale behind it. Provide clear instructions on the behavior you are expecting. “Joey, please be safe and don’t run when going down the stairs, as I don’t want you to get hurt.”
Even your teenagers may be more receptive when you positively give guidance and direction. For younger children, break the instructions into smaller portions so they aren’t overwhelmed. Your kids will learn what you expect as well as good listening skills.
Sometimes, kids aren’t trying to be disobedient. If you smother them with too many instructions at once, they can shut down on you. Be mindful of their age and the task requested, and it will help with parent/child communication.
Your little ones help you fold their clothes. Now, tell them what to put in each drawer and what to place on a hanger. As they wait for the next instruction, they are also practicing being a better listener.
Five Benefits of Having Children Who Listen
Have you ever heard other parents complain that their children don’t listen to them? There’s a difference in how good listeners and their parents interact with each other. Here are five things these children do differently with their parents.
While some people are naturally more sociable than others, good active listening skills must be learned. Children who are practicing being better listeners will also acquire active listening skills. They watch how their parents use open body language and mirror the emotions of the speaker.
Based on age-appropriate communication skills, teach your kids how to put what others say into their own words. Show them how important it is to ask questions if you don’t understand. Restating and clarification are active listening skills that help minimize misunderstandings.
These youngsters try not to interrupt as they take in the conversation. These vital tools will help them in school and later in life as working adults. They may also have better relationships with other family, friends, and their future mates.
2. They Might Be More Obedient
“Hey, did you pick up your books from the table as I asked?” “No, I didn’t hear you.” Does that sound like a familiar conversation in your house? While your kids claim they don’t hear you, the fact is they often aren’t listening to you.
When your kids listen well, they learn what is expected, and you’ll have a better outcome. Keep in mind that no child is perfect, and each kid has a willful nature that you must consider. However, helping them develop better listening skills can create a better line of communication between parents and kids.
3. They Learn to Be More Empathetic
Another crucial life skill that parents teach their youngsters is empathy, or how to relate to other people’s feelings. It’s not an automatic skill they’re born with, and it requires them to learn gradually from birth to adulthood. When your kids see and listen to you being empathetic with them and others, it provides a solid example.
According to an article published by the Harvard Graduate School of Education, using empathy examples is helpful. “How do you think Jenny felt when you called her names?” It gets the child to think and consider other people’s feelings and opinions.
4. They Communicate Better with Other Adults
Some kids are shy by nature or don’t talk a lot. However, children who listen well can learn how to communicate better with other kids and adults. If they have questions or problems, they learn how to express them at home, school, and public.
Of course, you don’t want your kids to get into conversations with strangers. But as you teach them more about adults who can be trusted, they will learn to use them as good role models, too.
Isn’t it frustrating when you try to chat with your kids, and they shrug their shoulders or mumble something that’s meant to say, “I don’t know?” It’s often expected during the turbulent teen years. Even then, you can model good listening skills for them to use.
5. They Learn More Family History and Life Skills
Do you know much about your family history and culture? If you do, you probably gleaned a lot of this information by listening to your parents, grandparents, and other older family members. Children need to learn about their respective cultures to have a connection with the past.
Children who listen to their elders also gain many valuable insights and life skills to use for the rest of their lives. When you are doing things around the house like cooking, repairs, or enjoying a hobby, share it with your kids. This is how life skills are passed down from one generation to the next.
Try to create as many opportunities as you can for your kids to listen and learn. Spend time with grandparents and other relatives who are a rich source of family history and culture. As your children listen, they gain a better knowledge of cultural identity and family pride.
Teaching your children to be good listeners is something you’ll never regret. Not only will it improve the communication in the home, but it will benefit them in the outside world too. They will be forever grateful that you were a good example to them, and these valuable skills can be taught to their kids one day.