Developing your child’s listening skills helps them build lifelong relationships

 Dr Rosina McAlpine

Dr Rosina McAlpine

We all want to be listened to right? Isn’t it wonderful when you share some exciting news with a family member and they listen attentively and share your joy? It’s so healing when your friend listens empathetically while you get something off your chest. And isn’t it SO annoying when you’re trying to share something and you keep getting interrupted and don’t feel heard at all? The bottom line is that listening is an important part of being a good communicator and a good friend.

Effective and thoughtful communication helps people build strong relationships. While one of the fundamental qualities of good communication is active listening, the research shows that most people are not good listeners. We probably don’t need research to tell us that... I’m sure everyone has experienced not being listened to on many occasions! However, people want to be heard, understood and feel connected and it is for this reason that active listeners tend to have more successful interpersonal relationships. Is your child a good listener? Has your child made good friends and do they get on well with family members? Could your child benefit from developing their listening skills? If so, you can talk to your child about:

1. the difference between hearing and listening and

2. the importance of active listening in building relationships with family, friends, teachers and others.

We all know when someone is really “listening” or just pretending to listen by simply hearing what we have to say while they are busy doing other things or thinking about something else. I know I have done this on occasion to our son Cameron when he has been talking to me and I’m focussed on cooking the dinner or getting some urgent work done. I might say “uh ha, or that’s great” and Cameron will get annoyed and repeat himself louder if he’s asked me a question and it’s obvious I’m not listening!  I can recall a few times when he has taken my face in his hands, turned my head to look at him and said “mummy listen to me”. Now that’s a wakeup call and effective communication!

By modelling good listening with our children when they are speaking, parents can show children that active listening is about being present to the other person, having eye contact and really trying to understand what they are saying. It’s these times of real listening between friends and family members that build the foundation for long lasting deep connections that last a life time. This is the connection you can forge with your child and teach them a valuable life skill. Win/Win!

Find out more about developing your child’s Communication Skills and how the Inspired Children Life Skills Home Activity eBook can benefit your whole family. Here are some of the key life skills your children can learn to help them fly through life:

Managing emotions - practicing effective strategies for managing anger and expressing feelings;  Helping your child understand that they’re smarter when they’re calmer; Learning to listen actively to build strong relationships with family and friends; Nurturing your family’s connection: the daily catch-up; Exploring the meaning of friendship: your child’s views and your view’s; Evaluating current friendships: do I have good friends? These activities help your child make good decisions and make the ‘right’ kind of friends; Discovering your family history – a fun activity for your child; How to work effectively in a team or group for a school project; Exploring emotions: expressing anger in a healthy and safe way; Nurturing a relationship with yourself, knowing your personal goals.

Remember each activity only takes around 15 minutes to complete and you can complete them at your own pace at a time that suits you and your family’s lifestyle. Most importantly, imagine how good you’ll feel about the huge difference you’re making as a parent to your child’s communication skills and ability to make great friends and get along with family members. The ability to build personal and professional relationships through effective communication supports your children to become successful and inspiring leaders in the world.