Communication – The key to an open, strong relationship with your child/teen – The importance of ‘active listening’.

    4 – Parenting tips – 21st October, 2013

     

    Communication Skills for parents – Active Listening

     

    Good communication is vital to maintaining good relationships between parents, careers and children.  When we think of communication, we think of speaking and talking.  Speaking is only part of communication.  Listening is another form of communication and perhaps one of the most important ones.  As children grow up and become teenagers, having an adult who can listen to and understand them becomes increasingly important.

     

    Active listening is:

     

    .        Sincere listening, attentive and open

    .        Able to reflect content of the teller

    .        Able to reflect feeling of the teller

     

    When parents listen actively, they send children the message that they are important enough to have the parent’s undivided attention.  Many problems can be solved and even prevented when parents take the time to use active listening.  When a parent is an active listener, she is able to guide children to solve problems for themselves.

     

    Here are steps to master this listening skill:

     

    .        Stop what you are doing

    .        Look at your child

    .        Give your full attention

    .        Listen to what is said

    .        Comment on what you think you heard

     

    It is not always possible to give your full attention, you may be dealing with another sibling, you may be working at home.  It is very important to acknowledge you heard your child and suggest a time (as soon as possible) to follow up on the discussion, when you can give them your undivided attention.  By doing this you show them you are interested and you want to hear what they have to say.

     

    When your child is telling you something, you may feel it is trivial, try to remember it is very important to your child or they would not tell you.  If they feel you are not interested, you are not taking them seriously, you do not understand what they are trying to say, you may well turn them off talking to you when another matter arises.

     

    Start as you mean to go on.  Try to instill a confident feeling in your child when they are communicating with you.  Let them know how important they are to you.  Think back to when you were their age, it might help you to understand their feelings.

     

    Try to avoid:

     

    .        Not paying attention, dismissing your child’s concerns

    .        Judgment, criticism, giving out.  Such as, “you are such a ….”, “That’s a really silly thing to do.  Are you stupid or something”. “How many times have I told you not to do/say that”…..

    .        Blame your child without clarifying the root cause of the misbehaviors.

    E.g. “You are always argumentative”..  “Its your own fault”…

    .        Belittle your child. E.g. “Is that the best you can do”.. “You cant do anything right”…

    .        Interrupting your child. E.g. “Why is that…”  “But…”, “How…”

    .        Showing excessive sympathy and pity. E.g. “That’s terrible! Why do things like this always happen to you..” “Poor you”….

    .        Giving advice immediately or dismissing their concerns. E.g. “I know what you should do…”, “Don’t be silly its not important…”  “You must….”

     

    Listening is a skill and a very important one at that.  .  Listening is a skill that needs to be worked on.  The more you work at it the more natural it becomes.

     

    “Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force.  The family members who listen to us are the ones we move toward.  When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand.”

    – Karl A. Menninger

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