Parenting is not an easy job, and at the same time, it is also the most important one. How do you teach your kids how to behave and be responsible while also listening to their problems? This blog talks about how listening actively and with empathy is one of the most important lessons in parenting.
Active listening is a communication technique that is meant to help you fully understand what the other person is saying. Active listening requires you to concentrate fully on the person and also encourages you to be empathetic and validate their feelings. Parenting with empathy and active listening is a wonderful experience, and one that will help the child to grow up in an emotionally safe space.
Below are a few ways in which we can actively listen to our kids.
Make eye contact:
It's important to show your child that you are listening so that they feel heard. This can be done by making eye contact with them when they are talking. Have you noticed how some parents kneel down to their kid's level to talk to them when they are throwing a tantrum? Coming down to their level helps one to make eye contact and also signals the child that they are having their parent's full attention.
Take them seriously:
Try not to dismiss your child's concerns or to pass judgement on what they're saying. Try to cultivate empathy so that your youngster can leave knowing that my parents understood me.
Helps to know your child better:
Listening carefully to your child helps you gather more information about them and also about what's bothering them. It will also help you to understand your child's perspective better.
Listening to a child in a calm and empathetic way is something that we all need to do. But many times as a parent we fail at doing so. We just want them to stop crying without understanding the reason behind it. We fail to pay attention to what they are saying.When we shut down the child from crying the child may further stop sharing his/her thoughts as they didnt get the desired attention earlier.
Hear them out:
Parents tend to communicate in two different ways with kids. One is empathetic listening (aka child-centered communication), where we remain quiet and hear them out. The other is advice-giving (aka parent-centered communication), where we give advice when the kid is upset. Research shows that while advice-giving works in the short term, it is detrimental in the long term to the relationship between parent and child.
Empathetic listening, on the other hand, helps the child learn to solve their own problems and leads to more positive, stable relationships.
Even the small stuff matters, as a quote says the following:
"Listen earnestly to anything your children want to tell you, no matter what.
If you don't listen eagerly to the little stuff when they are little,
They won't tell you big stuff when they are big,
Because to them all of it has always been big stuff."
Our children are often grown before we realize how much emotional baggage they are carrying. Children are exposed to many emotionally distressing experiences on a daily basis, either from the school they go to, the society around them or even from the family. Things that we find trivial are really great deals for our kids. If as parents we want them to share the big things with us we should be ready to listen to the small things with the same interest and curiosity.
By listening to our kids, we can build stronger relationships and help them to feel more comfortable, secure with us. When someone feels comfortable with us, they are more likely to open up and share their inner thoughts and feelings with us. As the world becomes more casual and social, the art of empathetic listening is more important than ever. It’s important to be able to listen to not only what’s being said, but how it’s being said. In order to be an effective parent, you need to be able to understand what your child is feeling.
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