Monday, April 02, 2012

Do You Actively Listen To Your Child?

By Rebecca Lane

Keeping an open communication with our children can be a difficult task at times. They feel we are not listening to them the same way we feel they are not listening to us.

Knowing how to listen and communicate is a very important part of parenting. What your child feels and think is worthy of your attention, and you should really make an effort to sit down and discuss what is important to them.

It is usually easier to react rather than respond. And we tend to judge on the basis of our own previous experiences or feelings. However, responding means being receptive to our child's feelings and emotions and allowing them to express themselves openly and honestly without fear of repercussion from us. When we react, we communicate that the child's thoughts and/or feelings are not correct. If we can respond rather than reacting, we can open a channel of communication by asking the child why he or she feels that way. Responding also gives you an opportunity to work out a solution or a plan of action with your child that perhaps they would not have come up with on their own. Your child will also appreciate the fact that maybe you do indeed understand how they feel.

It's crucial in these situations to give your child your full and undivided attention. Stop whatever you are doing, no matter if you are doing dishes, reading the paper or watching the news, and make sure you make eye contact. Keep calm, be inquisitive, and afterwards offer potential solutions to the problem.

Don't tell your child he shouldn't feel stressed, frustrated or angry. Our initial instinct may be to say or do something to steer our child away from it, but this can be a detrimental tactic. Again, listen to your child, ask questions to find out why they are feeling that way, and then offer potential solutions to alleviate the bad feeling.

Our children have feelings just as much as we do, and like us, they sometimes find themselves in hard situations. By actively listening and participating with our child as they talk about it, it demonstrates to them that we do care, we want to help and we have similar experiences of our own that they can draw from. Don't forget that you should always respond, rather than react.

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