How can you become the best parent to your child? It is a big lesson to learn but will be a benefit to you as long as you are a parent or grandparent. Listen to your children. An important part of parenting is to listen to the big things, listen to the small things, and listen to what may seem unimportant stuff. You will find listening to be a valuable tool while parenting your children. Does it take time? Sure it is time-consuming and sometimes you are busy with other activities but if you begin listening to your children when they are young they will continue to talk to you when they become teenagers.
Learning to be a good listener takes just a little time and patience but can bring massive rewards when your child is older. There are a few quick hints that may help you develop your listening skills. First, if your child has something to say, stop what you are doing. Yes, parents are busy and often feel they do not have time to stop and listen to their child. It’s important to realize the time to listen is when they want to talk. You will never have this time back. So, stop what you are doing. The dishes will wait, you can watch the same news again after they are in bed, and nothing is more important to your child than your attention.
Look at your child. You will often read their faces and body language and learn much about how they are feeling. If you are looking at your child they will know they have your attention. Look at their facial features. Do they look happy, sad, or angry? Many times body language and facial expressions will tell you much more than the child is saying.
Listen and don’t interrupt them. You can express your opinions when they are done talking. Give them the same respect you would give an adult friend. Practice listening. Improve your listening skills by learning how to acknowledge you are still paying attention to what they are saying. You can use simple responses to let them know you are still in the conversation.
If they hesitate or stop talking, ask simple leading questions that will enable them to go on with their conversation. You can encourage them by saying phrases like, “Tell me more, then what, or I know what you mean.” Leading questions will allow them to continue and let them know you are interested in what they are saying. Listen and name the feelings they are expressing to you. Are they mad, happy, or sad? Name that emotion and let them know it is okay to feel those emotions and to express them to you.
You do not need to help your child with a solution to every problem. Many times, just listening will help them make good choices and develop a closer and more trusting relationship. You can preserve your personal position but show understanding by listening and not arguing. Don’t try to discount or deny the feelings they are feeling. Your child needs to know they can express their emotions and that you love them enough to really listen and understand them.