Really listen to your child

Listening attentively to your child is important. By listening carefully, you will understand your child better. Your child will also feel supported.

Did you know

that many parents don’t listen to their children as well as they think they do?

Listening attentively can be hard. Just look at this example:

Parent: “It’s bed time. Are you going upstairs?”
Child: “But I’m not tired yet.”
Parent: “But it’s late and I think you actually are tired.”

In this example, the parent doesn’t show they heard what their child said. The child said they’re not tired. The parent responds by saying the child actually is tired. How could the parent show that they’ve heard what their child said?

An example:

 “I understand you’re not tired yet, but tomorrow morning you need to get up early. If you don’t go to bed now, you’ll feel very tired tomorrow.”

This response shows you’ve listened to your child. But you’re still in control.

A few tips to listen to your child attentively:

Tip 1: Focus fully on your child when they want to tell you something. Clear your head and look your child in the eye. Children can sense if you’re thinking of something else. Find out more about attentive listening here.

Tip 2: Let your child say what they want to say. Don’t interrupt your child and don’t finish their sentences. Let them think so they can say what they were going to say.

Tip 3: Repeat what your child said in your own words. Your child will feel you were really listening to them. And if you’ve misunderstood, they can correct you.

Tip 4: Name the emotions you see. You could say, for example, “I think you’re sad. Is that right? Why are you sad?” This will teach your child to talk about their emotions.

Did you know

that young children struggle to empathise with others?

That makes sense. But it changes as they grow older. Young children are very good at sensing emotions, but they struggle to respond to them. As toddlers, children start to understand that others have feelings too. Explain why you disagree with something. That will teach your child to step into another person’s shoes. Starting from the age of 7 or 8, children start to show more and more empathy.