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active listening

It was a sort of an unspoken rule in some Indian households, while for some it was something that they were reminded of from time to time.
It goes like this, “When parents talk or give command children should always listen”.
As a kid, I heard this frequently and still do as an adult.
Did you also hear this when you were growing up or do you say this phrase as a parent?
Odds are you would, as most of us at some point of our life would hear this one. Not our fault, we have been used to following the archaic laws of parenting and we don’t see beyond that.
I constantly heard that listening to what my parents said made me a good kid but it made me wonder, why is it always the job of kids to listen? Why don’t the grown-ups listen to what the kids have to say?

Why don’t we?

We too were kids once upon a time. We too used to be full of thoughts and emotions which we couldn’t wait to share with our “people”. How we desperately wanted someone to hear us out and pay attention to us. We used to wait around and maybe even throw a tantrum or two to get our parents to hear us out. Just like how we used to feel the pang of disappointment and sadness when we were not heard by them.
Has it been that long that we forgot it? Hmm, maybe it has been.
We wanted our parents to listen to us, not just hear us out. We need people who are active listeners.

What is active listening?

Active listening is the process of listening by being present in that moment and understanding what the other person is saying, not just pretending to listen. It includes listening to what your child is saying to you without letting in other interferences.

Why is active listening important?

  • Builds up trust between the parents and the child
  • Provides a channel where open communication could be practised
  • Helps in the creation of a bond between the child and the parents
  • Fosters better understanding
  • Aids in the development of better social skills of the child
  • Inculcates the art of listening in the child.

Tips and techniques to be an effective listener-

1) Encourage the talking process-

Children love to speak and voice out their thoughts and opinions and one of the main tips to be an effective listener is to encourage them when they are speaking. Don’t interrupt them while speaking and let them finish before you start talking.

2) Don’t multitask while they speak-

We adults don’t like it when others don’t pay attention to us when we are speaking. In the same way, children don’t like it either when they have to share the adult’s attention. Ensure that you are not multitasking when they are talking to you.

3) Pay attention to their cues-

We often communicate using non-verbal cues like gestures and expressions without actually using spoken words. So, try to pay attention to the subtle cues that the child may be exhibiting. They may teach a lot.

4) Don’t disregard their opinions-

The level of thinking that children have at that age may be considered juvenile or immature but parents should not discern the children’s opinions in front of their face. Such behaviour negatively impacts them and discourages them from voicing out their opinions in the future.

5) Ask questions-

Do ask questions to your child when he/she comes up with that idea to solve a problem. Enquire what they would do if they had a chance to solve the global crisis. Ask them questions as it shows them that you care and mostly that you were paying attention to what they were saying.

6) Show appreciation-

Let them know when they give a good idea or suggestion. Little words of appreciation encourage the child to do better and boost his/her self-esteem.

Give them a chance and listen to them. Who knows they may possess more intellect in their tiny minds than we do in our giant heads? If not, then it may provide you with a good source of wit and amusement.

Image source- www.pixabay.com

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