Hello?? Five Ways You Can Teach Your Child To Listen


If you are like many parents, you’ve probably had the thought that your child doesn’t listen to you. How often have you felt frustration or resorted to raising your voice? Do you feel like you have to remind your child about things so often that you sound like a broken record?

Here are five tips that can go a long way in encouraging your child to listen to you and help you restore your sanity and peace.

Be a role model. Teaching your child to listen begins with you. This means listening to your child, and realizing that listening is different than hearing. Hearing only means that you perceive sound. Listening is a conscious decision – you make the choice to engage and to pay attention to what is being said.

Listening goes beyond verbal; it incorporates the non-verbal as well – what you see and feel. Effective listening implies that you listen with your ears, eyes, mind and heart. When you connect eye-to-eye, you behold your child, and when you behold him with your eyes, you can hold him with your heart as well.

Slow down. When we are busy we don’t take the time to absorb our world and the people around us. We are focused on getting from point A to point B, checking things off our “to do” lists. We are not fully “here,” but running ahead of ourselves to get the next thing done.

Pause. Breathe. Settle into the moment.

Take your child in. Become attuned and responsive to what your child is feeling. Is he overwhelmed with schoolwork, tired from a long day, hungry, frustrated with a friend, or upset over a grade? When you are attuned to your child you are connected, communicating and listening. You can respond appropriately to your child and support him.

Be okay with not having the answers. I have learned that being wise is often better than being smart. Sometimes I do not have the answers, and other times my kids do not want to hear the answers I have. I understand this from listening to them with more than just my ears.

My kids just want me to listen, to recognize and validate what they are thinking and feeling. Sometimes amazing answers emerge within that sacred space of listening.

Realize you don’t have to be the “fixer.” As soon as you realize you don’t have to make a situation better, you are freed up to focus on listening to your child. Like you, he may need to vent. He wants to be listened to and affirmed.

Be dependable and honest. Do you follow through with what you tell your child? Or do you appease him, saying something like, “We’ll go to the park tomorrow,” and then you don’t? Broken promises and white lies add up quickly. Even the youngest child will begin to question why he should listen to someone who doesn’t maintain integrity.

These tips can help both you and your child learn to listen. Listening leads to learning, expands your effectiveness as a parent, builds a stronger bond with your child, and honors your relationship.  

Judy M Miller
About Judy M Miller

Judy M. Miller works with pre-adoptive and adoptive parents, equipping them with new techniques and information, and encouraging and empowering adoptive families through difficult times. She is the author of What To Expect From Your Adopted Tween.

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