Listening Well Can Have Big Benefits

cupping ear to listenDoes your child know how to listen? I mean, really listen? To focus on the speaker and absorb not only the words which are spoken, but also the meaning of those words?

Being able to listen effectively is a life skill that will have big payoffs throughout your child’s life. If your kiddo isn’t very good at listening, don’t despair. Listening effectively is a skill that can improve with practice.

You might be wondering why listening well is such an important skill to master. Well, here are a few ways that being a good listener can impact your child’s life.

• Good listeners become better students. By really hearing what is being taught your child will have a better understanding of the material being presented.
• Friendships will be enhanced when your child learns to listen well. There will be fewer conflicts because your child will have the knowledge to understand why his friend is acting or reacting in a certain way.
• Your child will develop a stronger sense of empathy when she has effective listening skills. She will pay attention to what others without those skills simply skim over or brush aside and will look at the speaker with a deeper understanding.
• Making decisions will be easier for your child because he will have a pocket full of information gleaned from active listening to help him with his decision.
• As an active listener, your child will become a better communicator. And some nice side effects that come with being a better communicator are respect, admiration and good rapport with others.

In addition to these benefits I’ve listed there are many other boons that come from being a good listener. As you think about how all of these things can positively impact your child’s life, you may start wondering how to help your child develop those all-important listening skills.

Helping your child develop into an active listener can be challenging but also very rewarding. Here are a few solid tips that can boost your child from being an ordinary listener to gaining rock star listener status.

• Teach your child the all-important life skill of making eye contact. Looking directly at the speaker will do several things. First, it will allow your child to tune in to the speaker’s body language. Is the speaker’s face crumpled in tears, smiling from ear-to-ear or tense and red? These visual clues will give your child important information about the speaker’s feelings. Looking the speaker in the eye will also have the effect of helping the speaker feel he is being heard and understood.
• Coach your child not to interrupt the speaker. This, in my opinion, is one of the hardest things for a good listener to learn. This is particularly true if the speaker and your child are in a confrontation or argument of some kind. Its natural your child will want to speak out and defend his thoughts or actions. By teaching your child to let the speaker explain her point of view without any interruptions you are helping him learn to defuse the situation. The speaker will feel heard and may be more willing to in turn hear your child’s rebuttal. Even if that isn’t the case, the simple act of being allowed to express one’s frustration or opinion is often enough to inject some calm into the situation. Of course, the do-not-interrupt rule probably won’t be so difficult for your child to master when there is a simple exchange of information with no squabble at the center of the communication.
• Explain to your child that it is very important to focus on the speaker. I’ve talked about making direct eye contact but in addition to that, teaching your child to tune out other distractions is key to him becoming an effective listener. Continuing to draw while occasionally glancing at the speaker doesn’t convey the feeling that your child is entirely focused. Likewise, looking directly at the speaker but continuing to bounce around to an internal beat doesn’t show undivided attention. If your child can learn to focus and show interest in what the speaker is saying then he will have mastered an important step in the listening process.

As I stated earlier it’s important that your child has a chance to practice these steps because with practice comes mastery. And with mastery comes enhanced friendships, more knowledge, a stronger sense of empathy and numerous other traits that will bode well for your child throughout his life.

In closing today I’d like to wish you a week in which the ears in your family do more than simply keep a hat from sliding down onto a face. Let’s all work at developing our listening skills in the hope of improving communication and understanding in our world.

Cathie

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