6 min read

Building up your listening skills

Illustration of a parent listening to their child
  • Remember when you used to listen to every sound your baby made and everything they did? You used to puzzle over exactly what they wanted? This type of listening helps them learn that they are safe and you will meet their needs.

    When you listen to your older child with that same attention you can give them strong self-esteem and prepare them for the world. You can give them the sense that “I really matter”.

    Most of us find it harder to do the older a child gets. But it’s really important. When you listen carefully, it helps you name their feelings and show you understand them. That can help them understand their own emotions. And that can help stop their behaviour getting louder and bigger.

    Plus, when you show them great listening, they learn to listen to other people!

  • You probably feel that you do nothing but listen to your child - and just want to know how to help them - most of us do at one time or another!

    All behaviour is communication - but it isn’t always clear what it is telling us. And listening in the right way is not so simple. Not many of us had parents who listened well to us when we were children - so we don’t have a model for what to do.

    Plus, there’s a lot of things that happen when you start to listen that make it harder.

    • It’s hard to face your child when they are angry at you.
    • If they have strong feelings - shame, anger, jealousy or guilt - it can be hard to know how to help them.
    • If you are truly listening to your child, you’ll start to pick up their feelings. That’s great for connecting to them - but it can make you start to feel out of control.

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