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Essential Listening Strategies for Parents with Small Children



Vuslat Foundation



Listening, often underestimated, is a skill that, like any other, requires cultivation. When it comes to our young children, the seeds of this skill can be sown early through the art of healthy dialogue and attentive listening. Here’s a guide to basic listening strategies that not only foster communication but also instill the value of mutual respect.

1. Give Your Undivided Attention:

In the world of distractions, offering undivided attention is a profound gift. When engaging with your child, put aside the phone, turn off the TV, and suspend other tasks. This communicates to your child that they have your complete focus and importance.

2. Teach Reciprocal Listening:

Empower your child with the skill of reciprocal listening. Request that, just as you give them your undivided attention, they extend the same courtesy when it’s their turn to talk. Encourage them to let you finish your thought before they express theirs, fostering a conversational rhythm of patience.

3. Connect at Their Level:

For small children, physically connecting at their eye level is transformative. Bend down or get on your knees to be on the same level as your child. This simple act communicates equality and makes them feel heard and respected.

4. Harness the Power of Touch:

Physical contact can be a silent communicator. As you initiate conversation, gently touch your child. This touch serves as a subtle signal, guiding their attention to your words. It adds a layer of comfort and reassurance to the conversation.

5. Seek Eye Contact:

Eyes are windows to understanding. Make intentional eye contact with your child as you speak. Observe their eyes as they listen, ensuring they are following and comprehending your words. Eye contact creates a powerful connection, making the conversation more meaningful.

6. Practice Patience:

Children, like anyone else, need time to process and express their thoughts. Exercise patience and maintain silence as your child formulates their response. This not only encourages them to articulate their ideas but also demonstrates the value of patience in communication.

7. Reflect and Repeat:

After your child shares their thoughts, reflect on what they’ve said. Repeating back their words shows that you were actively engaged and encourages them to elaborate further. It also confirms that their words are valued and understood.

8. Integrate Listening into Routine:

Make listening and conversing a regular part of your family routine. Whether during meal times or other established routines, take the opportunity to discuss daily occurrences. Share stories about your day, inquire about theirs, and create an environment where open communication is a natural part of your family dynamic.

By incorporating these basic listening strategies, you not only nurture effective communication but also lay the foundation for a relationship built on respect, understanding, and trust. These small yet powerful practices create an environment where your child feels valued, heard, and, in turn, learns the art of compassionate listening.