As parents, we all know how frustrating it can be when our kids are not listening to us, when they have tuned out and our words have become nothing more than noise. Is there anything more aggravating than repeating ourselves a thousand times a day?
Our children’s attention spans are more fragmented today than ever before, but the fact remains that active listening is an important factor in cognitive learning and for success later in life. So how can we teach our children to become good listeners? Teaching them what active listening is and what it is not can be tremendously helpful for showing children how to become active listeners.
Active listening is not:
- waiting for pauses in the conversation to insert your own thoughts (also known as interrupting)
- needing to have the last word
- developing your responses while the other person is speaking-letting your mind wander or focusing elsewhere while the other person is speaking
- not allowing interruptions or distractions enter the conversation
Active listening is:
- truly paying attention by looking at the person who is speaking
- trying to understand the other person has to say
- being interested in the information the other person is saying to you
- showing respect for the person with whom you are speaking
- asking questions if you are not understanding what the other person has to say
- letting the person know that you are paying attention and understand what he or she is saying
Once you have talked with them about active listening, try it out with them. Do a listening comprehension exercise, which is a conversational form of reading comprehension exercises. Talk to them about a subject which they know nothing about. Then ask them questions to see if they were listening and understood you. As their listening skills improve, so will their comprehension and aptitude.
Remind your children too that active listening is as simple the golden rule. If they want to be heard when they speak, they should listen to others as well.