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Are Our Children Being Heard?

Apr 04, 2019

Active and Effective Listening


Listening is a crucial component to any relationship, particularly within families. For parents, listening to their children is a way that they can communicate that what their child has to say is important, and by extension, that their child is important to them.

The following are some tips derived from and to help with active and effective listening:

  1. Give your full attention to your child.

-        Remove yourself from any distractions e.g. TV, phones, other family members. What your child has to say may seem trivial, but it is their chosen way of reaching out to you, so pay attention.

  1. Don’t interrupt with questions or comments.

-        This can be difficult when we disagree strongly with someone’s words or point of view. However, we limit and discourage communication when we interrupt and interject our own opinion.

  1. Be an active listener  

-        Use your body language and words. Face your child, make eye contact while they are speaking and nod along as they talk. Use open body language (avoid crossing your arms and sitting back from them), avoid disbelieving or judgemental facial expressions. Use phrases like ‘I see’ and ‘I can understand why you would feel/act that way’ to encourage them.

  1. Remove judgement from your language.

-        Judgement is an effective blocker of communication. When a child/adolescent feels judged, they are more likely to shut down communication than they are to open up and be vulnerable with you. This is especially true during the process of discipline.

  1. Be slow to give advice

-        It can be easy to jump in with what we see as an easy solution to our child’s problem. However, communicating advice too readily or without express invitation can send the message that we believe our child/teenager is incapable of solving their own problems.

-        Often, children just want us to listen and empathise.

-        If you do have some thoughtful advice to give, ask first before sharing it, waiting until they have given you their whole story. 

  1. Make listening a habit.

-        Change doesn’t happen overnight. It occurs through consistent, habitual behaviour. The small relationship details add up, and picking and choosing when you will listen to your child can cause them to expect that you won’t listen to them, and act accordingly.

Listening may not resolve an argument, and it may not provide a solution to a dilemma. What it does provide is a platform for healthy communication, and a culture of regard and value for others. It also provides a foundation for cooperation and the resolution of disagreements. Active listening models healthy and cooperative relationships to children/teenagers.

 - Mrs Sarah Kross - College Counsellor


 If you are looking for a nurturing environment for your children, where teachers listen and care, click HERE to enquire about enrolment at Hills Adventist College today!  A Pre-school to Year 12 College in the Hills District of Sydney, NSW.