From the very first days of their lives, children learn how to get you listening to their needs. They start with crying, smiling, making faces. Anything that gets a parents reaction and attention. For instance, when a 10 month old starts babbling and you look at them and exclaim in surprise. That reactions teaches them that babbling gets a positive reaction. So they start babbling more, to cause that same reaction. It is quite amazing to watch a 10 month old do that, isn’t it? But as your child gets older and more talkative, parents and caregivers don’t always maintain that reaction.
Why early interactions with caregivers and parents are so important.
Even though sometimes children talk in ways that don’t make sense to adults, they are imitating adult conversations. Moreover, they are looking for us to react to the conversation that they are trying to have. They want to recreate that special reaction they had in their early years.
As your child grows and becomes more and more talkative, it is important for parents to practice active listening. With active listening, you take the time and listen to them, while acknowledge them and trying to understand what your child is trying to say. We are so busy in our daily chores that sometimes it’s difficult to listen. For example, when a child calls for “Mom.” The mom replies “Honey can you give me a few minutes so I can wrap this up and then I will hear you out.” The child keeps coming back and eventually the mom get agitated or angry and instruct the child to listen to them and hold on. When this situation happens multiple times, children feel like parents are not listening.
Active Listening – Help your child with conversation and language development
Let’s just take that time and look at our children and listen to what they have to say and engage in conversation with them.
Active listening is an important skill for parents to practice and model for their child. As they try to recreate adult conversations, children will learn that active listening is the best way to engage in conversation and eventually they will also become active listeners. Here are a few steps you can take to model active listening with your child:
- Stop your daily chores for a few minutes: even though we are all busy, stopping for a few minutes and listening to your child demonstrates that you are giving them your full attention
- Set aside connection/listening hours: Set aside an hour or two to spend with your child just talking to them and listening to what they have to say every day. It will be unbelievable how much of a connection that will establish between you and your child.
- Go offline: Don’t look at your phone or device or TV as your child talks to you since you need to lead by example.
- Practice while doing something they like: Try to pick some common fun activities to do with your child, something that your child enjoys. By engaging with them in an activity they enjoy, they will feel more inclined to talk. They will also be happy to have your undivided attention t listen to something they care about.
In our day to day lives we are so wound up in schedules, sometimes we need to stop and allow ourselves to listen. Remember to absorb everything that happens around us and be mindful of our conversations. More importantly, we need to allow our children to bring patience and simplicity into our lives.
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