Ask moms how to raise a good listener, and you’ll be met with a variety of responses.
Some will laugh out loud. Others may tell you they have it all together and that their children always listen to them and do everything they say (don’t trust these women!).
So many of us are at a loss when it comes to teaching listening skills. Parents are busier than ever, and that can sometimes make it difficult to just stop and listen to our children.
Yet making sure you raise your child to be a good listener is crucial for many reasons. For example, he needs to be able to follow directions at school, in college and at a job. He also needs the practiced skill of listening to make and keep friends, snag a spouse and deal with a variety of people in everyday life.
So how do you become one of those moms whose children don’t tune her out?
Tips to Raising a Good Listener
Humor works wonders.
One mom told me, “When I want to get my 4-year-old’s attention, I randomly insert the word ‘chocolate’ into whatever I’m saying. As in, ‘put your chocolate shoes on, NOW, please’. Sometimes he giggles at my misuse of the word; sometimes he makes me pay up with chocolate-covered raisins.”
Practice reading comprehension.
When you finish reading your child a story, ask her random questions about it. You can also ask her to summarize the story for you. If you’re reading a bedtime book that takes many nights to finish, ask your child what she thinks might happen the next night in the story.
It teaches your child how what they have to say is important. And before you know it, your child will want to listen to what you might think will happen in the next story.
Listen to your child.
If you want your child to pay attention to what you are saying, practice listening. Turn off the radio in the car and hear what your child wants to tell you about his day. Most importantly, don’t interrupt. Look him in the eye when he’s talking to you so he knows you are present and paying attention.
Parents, this is a hard one, so you have to practice often. It’s easy to mumble a bunch of “mm, hmms” when your child is telling you about an artistic creation or about a kid at school, so put the dishes down and just listen.
Give directions in small steps.
For the younger set, general instructions like, “Please clean your room” can be overwhelming. Instead, ask her first to put all of her stuffed animals in the box in the closet. Then ask her to hang up her shirts. Then have her put all the dolls on her bed.
Kids love that they can do something for themselves and please you at the same time. Instead of saying, “pick up the living room,” ask your child to pick up 10 toys each and put them in the toy bin. When he’s done, ask them how many more he thinks it will take to clear the floor. The counting practice is invaluable, and the room is clean in no time.
If you are a parent who threatens and never follows through, watch out because your child is watching what you say and do. If you say there will be no allowance for skipping chores, then don’t pay allowance that week. Then make sure you have the same consequence if it happens again.
Show your appreciation.
Thanking your child for being a good listener when he does something you asked him to is a great way to show him that listening really does matter and that you notice what he does.
My kids are ages 7 and 9 and I still thank them sometimes for listening to me, especially when I know there are lot of things distracting them, making it hard to focus on what I’m asking.
What’s your best tip for raising a good listener?