Like many parents, you’ve probably thought that your child doesn’t listen. How often have you felt frustration or resorted to raising your voice? Or sounded like a broken record? Here are five tips that encourage your child to listen to you – and help you restore your sanity and peace.
1. Be the role model.
That means listening to your child. Teaching your child to listen begins with you. It’s different than hearing, which only means you perceive sound. Listening is a conscious decision to engage and to pay attention to what is being said. And it goes beyond verbal, incorporating your ears, eyes, mind and heart.
2. Slow down.
When we’re busy, we don’t take the time to absorb our world and the people around us. We are focused on getting from point A to B and checking things off our “to do” lists. We are not fully present, but running ahead of ourselves, in our minds. Teach your child to pause, breathe and settle into the moment.
3. Learn to be attuned.
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Become attuned to and aware of what your child is feeling. Is he overwhelmed with schoolwork, tired from a long day, hungry, frustrated with a friend, or upset over a grade? When you are attuned to your child you are connected, communicating and listening. You can respond appropriately and support him.
Point out moods and trends in behavior to your child that you notice in others. This will cultivates his ability to be attuned to others.
4. Realize you don’t have to be the ‘fixer.’
Teach your child that being a good listener doesn’t mean you have to solve someone’s problems or have all the answers. Sometimes I don’t have the answers – and others, my kids do not want to hear the answers I have. They’re not alone. Many times, people just want to be heard and they want their feelings validated. Sometimes amazing answers emerge within that sacred space of listening.
5. Be dependable and honest.
Do you follow through with what you tell your child? Or do you appease him, saying, “We’ll go to the park tomorrow”– and then you don’t? Broken promises and white lies add up quickly. Even the youngest child will begin to question why he should listen to someone who doesn’t have integrity.
These tips can help both you and your child learn to listen. Listening leads to learning, for both you and your child. Listening expands your effectiveness as a parent. Listening builds a stronger bond with your child and honors your relationship.
This post was originally published in 2014 and has been updated for 2016.