Most parents expect and demand of their children to listen to them, while not giving their kids the same attention back. We’re busy finishing up household chores or office tasks - and in the midst of all this we forget to pause to hear the little details our kids have to share with us. These stories and snippets that our kids keep telling us may seem small and irrelevant, but they form a huge part of our children’s lives and are very important to them. Our undivided attention means the world to our kids and helps them feel heard and seen. In order to build a strong bond of love with our children, we must hold the door for a two way communication and develop active listening skills that will go a long way in making our children feel secure and happy.
Importance of communication in parenting
Every child has a few basic needs that parents or caregivers need to provide for them. There are physiological needs such as air, food, water, shelter; the need to feel safe from physical harm and finally the need to be loved, accepted and belong. When these needs are met for a child, he grows up into a happy, independent and content adult.
Importance of communication skills in parenting is not discussed enough. Communication plays a big role in making kids feel loved and accepted and active listening for parents is a key element in effective communication. It is a technique that helps parents and kids understand each other better by giving the other their undivided attention and by genuinely empathising with the others’ emotion.
Benefits of active listening in parenting
Active listening is crucial for parents to establish healthy communication with their children. It is only through effective communication that parents can convey the love and care they feel for their children to them, leading to strong bonds of love and connection.
1. It builds trust
Nothing makes kids feel loved, supported and understood like the way their parents’ undivided attention does. It helps them build enough trust in their parents to confide in them without the fear of being judged.
2. Helps the child to open up and speak freely
You do not have to agree with your child on everything, but if you give your child the space to be his authentic self in front of you, he will not feel the need to hide things from you.
3. Develops empathy
Effective Communication is the shortest route to empathy. When parents and children get their message across to each other loud and clear, they are able to step into each others’ shoes, which help them understand the others’ feelings and situation better, developing a steady foundation of mutual love and respect.
4. Resolves conflicts
Unless you talk to each other and believe that the other truly cares for you and wants the best for you, you will not be able to resolve your conflicts. Conflicts can be healthy in any relationship, if they are resolved with mutual respect and understanding and this can be achieved only through effective communication and applying active listening techniques.
What Are Active Listening Skills?
They are a set of skills that are employed to understand the person on the other end of the communication better. It is a way of taking into note the other person’s feelings, emotions and intentions while communicating with them to develop healthy relationships.
1. Keep the phone away.
You wouldn’t want someone to be on their phone while talking to you, right? Extend the same courtesy to your children while talking to them. They may not be able to say it in words, but they know when they are receiving their parents’ full attention.
2. Listen with your body
Non verbal communication or body language makes up 80% of our communication. So if you are physically present but mentally absent from a conversation – your body gives away cues. When you are conversing with your kids, listen with your body – which means try to sit at their eye level, with your arms open in a relaxed manner, keep nodding at them to let them know you are really interested in being with them.
3. Let them finish before you respond
As caregivers, we rush to solve our little one’s problems and try to offer them advice, solutions and lessons at every turn. Next time when you are listening to your toddler, let him finish his story first , however long or abrupt it may seem. This will encourage your child to share more often with you, without the fear of being interrupted by you. Give your child the gift of your patience.
4. Repeat what they’ve said.
Paraphrasing will do two things – first it will make your child feel heard by you and second, it will give him a chance to introspect on the same story/perspective he just told you and that will make him derive lessons, conclusions and solutions on his own, which will foster independent thinking.
5. Encourage your child to introspect
Ask open ended questions to your child while listening to him, such as, “ How did that make you feel?” or “What did you want to do after that” – this will not just keep your conversation going, but is a good way of getting your little one to introspect without much prodding on your end.
1. What’s the difference between listening and hearing?
Hearing means receiving a sound through your ears, while listening means understanding the meaning behind that sound/audio. Listening happens with the intention to understand, while we keep hearing all sorts of sounds all day long.
2. How important is non verbal communication?
Non verbal communication makes up most of our communication which includes body language, tone, facial expressions and emotional state while communicating with somebody.
There are many times in a day when parents can connect with their kids and practise active listening with them, to strengthen their relationship. This can be on waking up, while cuddling in bed, during bath time, play time or while reading books at bed time. Take any opportunity in the day to sit down with your child and give him your undivided attention to actively tune in to his feelings and simply listen to him. This will make your kids feel heard and they will share more and more with you. Dress your kids in clothes that move with them and keep them playful and happy all day long. At One Friday World, we have a team of designers based in Milan, Italy who keep up with latest global kids’ wear trends and provide us with truly one-of-a-kind accessories and apparels for kids.