Home . Radioshow . News Columns . Resources . Contact

The Taos News


can be heard discussing Positive Psychology here.


Learning to Listen to Your Child

September 2012

We all know the healing power of being listened to. When another person really listens to us we feel deeply heard, acknowledged, accepted, understood, and loved. If we want our children to experience those same benefits of being listened to in the environment that counts the most, it follows that as their parents, we must learn to become good listeners.

Before offering some tips to help you become a better listener,  I would like to give some examples of what listening is NOT. When your child asks you to listen and you start giving advice, you are not listening. When they begin to share their feelings and you tell them they shouldn’t feel that way, you are not listening. When they talk about a problem they are having and you begin to solve it, once again, you are not listening.

If you are guilty of some or all of the above examples of NOT listening, the simplest and fasted change you can make to correct yourself is to stop talking so much. When your child wants to tell you something of  importance to them, shift the balance towards listening. You can accomplish this by asking them questions like, “What’s on your mind?” or, “Is there anything else you would like to tell me?”  Smiles and nods will encourage them to open up and talk more as well. A simple statement such as, “I’ve been doing a lot of the talking,  I’d like to stop now and listen to you!” will also help.

Another way become a better listener is to stop yourself from interrupting your child unnecessarily. When you cut your child off in mid-sentence or interrupt by finishing his thoughts out loud for him,  you are not only being disrespectful, you are telling your child that what you have to say is more important than what they have to say. Pay attention to how frequently you interrupt your child. Reduce your pattern of interrupting them and you will notice right away the positive effect it has on the way your child relates to you.
Nothing will stop your child from saying what she wants to say faster than your unbridled emotional reactivity. When you speak in loud, angry tones, reply to her with sarcasm, attack her personally, or fume in silence, you interfere with listening and undermine her trust in you. Rationalizing such conduct with a statement like, “Don’t take it personally, that’s just the way I am,” demonstrates a lack of understanding of the powerful negative impact your emotional reactivity has on your child. If you are emotionally reactive at times, start noticing  the things your child says that trigger you and anticipate how you could respond rather than react. This will enable you and your child to think clearly and creatively while you uncover the hidden potentials present in most situations.

Recognizing your child’s feelings and authentically responding to them is another important aspect of learning to listen. The emotion that underlies the message your child is bringing you is often the most significant part of the communication. However, before you can recognize and respond to your child’s feelings, you must be able to be comfortable with your own. When you are comfortable knowing what you feel, you will be better able to listen for the emotional content of what your child is saying. When you listen for feelings, you begin to hear not just with your ears, but with your heart as well.

The gift of your complete and focused attention through skilled listening is one of the kindest gifts you can give your child. Your child will become more real for you and  your relationship with them will become more meaningful. They will feel nurtured in the gift of your attention, while you give them the key to understanding how to live well together with others.


Home . Radioshow . News Columns . Resources . Contact