Listening is about two things. First it is hearing what your child has said and encouraging their expression of feelings and thoughts. Second, listening is the response to what has been heard, and seeking clarity of ideas and feelings. Listening is a very powerful tool in building a relationship with your child, and is even more challenging in today’s world. This is because much of our communication transpires electronically. Often, when things go wrong in communicating with a child, it is the parent doing most of the talking and little of the listening that impacts the child’s self-esteem.
In an article from the Huffington Post (see references below) by Mark Goulston, MD, the key is not what we tell our children but what our children need to hear from their parents. For example, if you find that your child is upset, it’s important to acknowledge that they are upset. More important is to ask them questions that will help you, as a parent, get to the core issues of their feelings and help them deal with the situation. This will result in helping them understand themselves and their feelings.
Now is a good time to introduce you to mindful listening. This is something that I am working on. I have always focused on taking care of everybody. I often found myself multi-tasking and ensuring that everything was taken care of for all of my loved ones. But a very powerful way to take care of yourself, your children, and everyone is to give them mindful listening. What is mindful listening? From the website, MindTools (reference below,) and their article, mindful listening is, “Developing Awareness to Listen Fully.” It is about giving your child your undivided attention in a way that is non-judgmental and avoids distractions. In this article, the author provides tips on how to listen mindfully. For improving listening and talking with your children, I offer three points that are part of these articles:
- Being present – This is the part about giving your child your undivided attention and focusing 100%.
- Empathy – Try your best to put yourself in your child’s place.
- Ask questions to encourage your child to talk with you and learn to effectively communicate.
There are also two books that I recommend that can help you build your listening skills and mindfulness. The book, “How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and How To Listen So Kids Will Talk” is about how to effectively communicate with your child. It helps you help your children deal with and express their feelings.
The book, “Mindfulness for Parents, Finding Your Way to a Calmer, Happier Family” is a great source of information on how to build mindfulness. This book will show you how to bring about instant results in building your communication and relationship with your children.
- Article: Mindful Listening, Develop Awareness to Listen Full, Mind Tools at https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/mindful-listening.htm
- Article: Mark Goulston, M.D., Promoting Self-Esteem with Active Listening, The Huffington Post, The Blog at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mark-goulston-md/active-listening-promotin_b_607720.html