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How To How to Listen to Your Child

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The most valuable gift you can give your child is to listen to the little and big things in his life. Begin early so that the lines of communication will be open during the teenage years.
Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: 15 Minutes

Here's How:

  1. Stop what you are doing.
  2. Look at your child.
  3. Pay attention to your child's nonverbal language. Does the child look happy, sad, afraid?
  4. Be silent.
  5. Use simple acknowledgement responses that show you are listening. "I see. Oh. Uh-Huh. Hmmm."
  6. Use door-openers, phrases that encourage further talking. "Tell me more. Go on. How do you feel about that? I know what you mean. Then what?"
  7. Listen for and name the feelings you think you hear from what your child is telling you. "That made you pretty mad, didn't it? You seem really happy about that!"
  8. Use problem-solving phrases when needed. "What do you wish you could do? What do you want to happen? What do you think will happen if you do that?"

Tips:

  1. Don't feel that you must advise or help your child come up with a solution all the time. The value of listening is in the listening itself.
  2. Listening helps parents and children avoid the power struggle cycle. Instead of arguing, listen. Show your understanding while maintaining your position.
  3. Don't try to deny, discount, or distract the child from the feelings they are expressing.

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