Are you really listening to your child?
Children are indeed blessings from God. However, these little angels are often not given enough time and a listening ear. Most parents are more concerned about the health of the infant, and if they able to do all the things a normal child should be doing and nothing more than that.
Research states that listening to your child makes it more likely that they will listen to you as well. When children feel listened to, valued or understood, they are more likely to reciprocate.
According to UNICEF, actively listening to your child shows them that what they are saying is important to you, which builds your child’s confidence, develops their trust, and will also help your child build stronger bonds with you. This is especially true for young children that are constantly learning how to navigate the world by taking cues from their parents.
Actively listening involves giving your child undivided attention, being open minded, not being judgmental and letting your child finish talking before you respond. Always ensure you don’t blame your child over something they have said because it may scare them and keep them from opening up.
However much lecturing seems like a polite disciplining habit, desist from it. Instead, work as a team, converse and discuss a way forward.
Sandra Asingwire, a counseling psychologist at New Dawn counseling and psychotherapy, says there is so much power in actively listening to children.
“Put your phone down and maintain eye contact. This gives the child confidence since you’re showing that you value their opinions. ‘Dot.com’ parenting is one of the reasons parents raise broken humans,” Asingwire says.
As parents, it’s often common to find yourself drifting off the route of good parenting by just humming to your child’s conversation and pretending to listen, until they ask another sensitive question. Then you realize you weren’t listening.
“One trick is to offer a “reflection statement”. Repeat back exactly what your child said without twisting or trying to interpret their words. This shows you are paying attention,” she adds.
Here are some of the benefits of actively listening to your child:
- It helps them communicate effectively
- Active listening aids in the development of social skills
- Helps in building a strong self-esteem
- Helps them develop faster academically
- Enhances emotional awareness
- Allows exchange of thoughts and ideas
Many parents don’t listen to their children until they are grownups and then parents assume that they are now mature enough to make their own decisions. This is why some children nowadays are finding confidence in social media where there are people watching and paying attention to them more. Children get attached to phone games and whatever the internet is offering.
The manner of communication with your child shows them how to communicate with other people and shapes their emotional development. It may also largely determine how they build relationships later in life. Make sure you’re giving it due attention.