6 Little Tips to Raise an Active Listener

Ever wondered why your child never responds instantly and positively when you ask them. It’s frustrating, isn’t it? You keep calling their name, repeat your instructions and even end up yelling at them but these little monsters don’t budge. And, you wonder again, what is their problem?

Let’s take a moment here. Do you really think it is their problem? Or, is it something we parents and elders are doing wrong?

Imagine a scenario. You are comfortably sitting on your couch browsing through your phone, and suddenly someone screams and passes on some instructions. How did you feel? Did you want to get up and finish the chore at that moment or you were ok to let it go for some time? Again after a few minutes, you hear a loud shriek of instruction. Irritating, right?

Now, imagine someone standing in front of your face while you are still on that couch, and this person is repeating some instructions in a shrill voice. Did you really feel obliged to do it? I know you didn’t. You may get up huffing and sighing and work your way through half-heartedly and get the job done. Just to get rid of this annoying person.

This is just one instance but this is what happens to the kids all throughout the day. We, especially moms are constantly telling them what to do, what not to do, when to eat, how much to eat, switch off the phone, go and study, clean your room, brush your teeth and so on and on. No one likes to take instructions all the time, and the tiny brains of the little ones find it hard to grasp the continuous flurry of demands. They feel and sometimes also say it – Mom, give it a rest. I am sure you don’t like hearing that.

Well, here are six little tips that we can apply in our daily routine and help ease it out for our little ones as well as us. It will be a day to celebrate when none of you is either yelling or frustrated. 

Read on for some quick and easy steps to raise an active listener.

  1. Listen, actively and give your full attention. – When your child speaks to you listen attentively. Give a nod to what they say, even try to summarise and clarify that you understand them correctly. If they are feeling sad or angry or happy or excited, teach them to label their emotions. Also, accept their emotions, kids tend to get overwhelmed easily. Don’t just dismiss their feelings because they are small. Place a hand on their shoulder or hold hands, this helps them feel a connection. Maintain eye contact when you communicate, that helps them feel safe and understood. And, remember while you are up to it bend down or squat to their level, mind it it’s a good exercise for your core too. Two birds in a shot.
  2. Ask permission, don’t interrupt. As I said, in the scenario above, no one likes to be interrupted. So do the kids. If they are busy doing something even if it means watching TV or playing games, say – ‘Excuse me, I need a moment for…..’ Ask for their permission, this sets the tone in place that there is going to be a two-way conversation and not a one-way forceful flow of instructions to do some chore that the child was already avoiding.
  3. Be less demanding. – Forcing instructions comes across as very demanding of you and they start feeling out of control. Instead speak in a way where they feel they are in control of things. For e.g., instead of asking them to stop the game right away and finish their homework, say – if you finish your homework now you will have extra free time afterward to play the game.
  4. Read to them and read with them. – Reading with your child is one of the best and simplest activities that help build a bond with them. It also helps improve their vocabulary which will enhance their communication and expression. Although simple this might seem tedious, especially for non-reader parents. If you are in this zone then implementing a reading schedule may become a hectic job. Come on how are you going to convince someone to do something you yourself aren’t keen on. But kids need to read, it is essential for their growth. In such a case, you may start by letting your child browse through the book as per their delight. While they do so just sit next to them and flip pages of any book that pleases you. It builds an impression of reading and might help develop curiosity in the child. While your child is developing their reading skills, who knows you may turn into a reader too.
  5. Never speak in front of them as if they don’t understand. – Kids stay with you 24/7 unless you are working from the office or they are going to school. Obviously, they start understanding your gestures, expressions, and words. Even if they don’t use the same language as you, they already know what is going on. On the other hand, sometimes we adults gradually fail to realize that the child has grown enough to grasp everything and we just go on blabbering amongst ourselves as if they don’t exist. Try to look at your child like another person in the room. Don’t discuss anything unpleasant that you need to discuss especially ‘them’. Wouldn’t you be careful if that topic included your colleague or relative? Would you speak about them in front of them or stay mindful of who all might be listening to you?
  6. Give Simple and Small instructions. – I have done this mistake numerous times in the past and I have already learned a lesson in communication from my child. If you give too many instructions to anyone who is not noting them down, they are going to forget a few of them by the time you are at your last sentence. So, do the kids. If you tell them, go and finish your homework, and while you are in your room clean the mess before you go to bed. Er! I myself would be exhausted breaking down this complex instruction. Instead, break it down to your kid. One thing at a time. Prioritize what you need first, homework or clean room, and request your child accordingly.

Bonus Tip: Praise when they listen actively. – Lastly, whenever they listen and pay attention, praise them. Praise is one of the best positive reinforcements that you can offer to a child. That leaves them boosted and encourages good behavior. Also, isn’t that what you wanted since the start, now that you have started getting it, acknowledge and celebrate. It is your achievement too.

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