“Mom….Mom! I said I can’t find my other boot! Are you listening to me?”
It’s ok, mom. You probably weren’t. You were most likely zipping up a jacket, filling a sippy cup and trying to remember where your keys were. With everything whirling around us these days, the art of Active Listening is something that we, as parents, struggle to practice.
We’ve been talking a lot this month about the topic of Active Listening over in our Empowering Kids with Character Facebook Group and in the Empowering Kids with Character Newsletter. Make sure you’ve joined both to get the latest tips, FREEBIES and fun ideas to support you in your most important role: parent!
Active Listening is an important “soft skill”, like problem-solving, leadership, and teamwork. It includes being intentional with your body, hands, and heart while also being patient and nonjudgmental. It’s a skill that can be acquired and developed with practice…. LOTS of practice!
But! If we begin to model active listening with our children, they will naturally begin to incorporate these skills into their life as well.
Want to see Active Listening “in action?” Check out a recent video from Everybody Loves Raymond we shared this week on our Empowering Kids with Character Facebook page for a funny take on the power of Active Listening!
WHY IS ACTIVE LISTENING IMPORTANT?
A recent OxfordLearning.com article explained the many benefits to being an Active Listener. Besides better comprehension in the classroom, active listeners tend to be better communicators and problem solvers overall. This leads to fewer misunderstandings in all areas of your life! The skill of active listening can also boost feelings of confidence and self-reliance.Being an Active Listener also shows good character, commitment, and is an essential component of being a leader – attributes we strive to model and teach our children each and every day!
WHAT DOES AN ACTIVE LISTENER LOOK AND ACT LIKE?
Maria Dismondy hopped on our Empowering Kids with Character Facebook Group this past week and shared some of her ideas on the behavior of an Active Listener:
MOUTH: Quiet, no humming or interrupting (this is a common issue for kids and a tough but wonderful habit to break!)
HANDS: Try not to fidget or wiggle; this includes feet too!
BODY: Ever tried to talk to someone while they face another direction? It doesn’t feel good. Face the person speaking to you to give them your full attention.
HEART: Don’t judge. Don’t spend the time thinking about what YOU want to say next. Listening with your heart means caring what the other person is saying and staying open to that.
EYES: Eye contact! Have a child that tends to be more shy or nervous? Tell them to focus on something on the person’s face – the middle of their eyebrows, for example!
BRAIN: Maria Dismondy said it best: “When we are using our brain as thinkers, we are thinking ONLY about what the other person is saying.” This includes waiting for silence to begin your response.
Practice, practice, practice. We are working towards progress, not perfection. But if your family is intentional on working on active listening, it can and will change many dynamics in your home!
Speaking of dynamics in your home: Maria Dismondy’s latest book, Sunny Side Upbringing was just released on Saturday, March 1st in stores nationwide! Order today to get your family this simple parenting toolkit to make your life easier and your job of parenting more fulfilled!
And don’t forget to sign-up for the Empowering Kids with Character Newsletter, so you always are in the know on the latest FREEBIES!
Do you have a tip on how to help kids practice becoming active listeners? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.
Sarah Cavanaugh is a Marketing, PR and Communications Specialist with over 25 years of experience writing, building effective campaigns, and creating brand awareness. Sarah can usually be found exercising, drinking coffee and watching Saturday Night Live skits on YouTube. She lives with her two active teens and husband in Grand Rapids. Find her at www.CavanaughCommunications.com.