Teaching listening skills to our children centers on our own ability to listen. The concept of
is key: if we want our kids to have effective listening skills we need to be great role models for them.
Since the best way of teaching listening skills to our children is by improving our own listening skills my listening articles will center on ways and tips to improving listening skills in ourselves.
Improving Listening Skills
The importance of listening is often understated in articles on communication skills. Just as we want to be heard, we need to hear and process the words that our children tell us.
Good listening skills help to further develop and deepen relationships by making us feel connected to others. Thus teaching listening skills to our kids will help to strengthen our parent-child-bond.
On the other hand bad listening skills are like a slap in the face. The talker feels completely ignored and misunderstood. While the listener, on the other hand, is often at a loss for why he has gotten the cold shoulder.
So how do we avoid this stinging sensation to our face?
Well firstly lets look at some of the main taboos when teaching listening skills to our kids. As role models to our kids we need to practice not doing the following;
- 1) Do not forge or fake an interest,
2) Do not push your agenda, values or beliefs onto the other person
3) Do not try and fix the problem
If you are doing any of these then chances are you are getting the proverbial slap in the face. Even if the slap isnt immediate, you may be finding that all of your advice although, eagerly accepted, has been ignored or poorly attempted.
Why? Because this advice is perfect for you, not the person you gave it too. Unfortunately as well intentioned as your advice may have been it is destined to fail.
Do not forge or fake an interest
Faking interest is a short term gain for a long term loss. By faking it, you fail to develop rapport. Whether your body language contradicts what you are saying or you respond inappropriately because you are not listening, you will be caught out.
Our children learn from us, they learn from our actions and what we do, our words come a poor second to our actions.
So if we fake interest, we are teaching our kids poor communication skills. This will affect them in every aspect of their lives now and in the future.
Do not push your agenda, values or beliefs onto the other person
Projecting your own values and beliefs onto the other person will not empower the person or give them the confidence to trust in themselves
By giving advice based on your own needs and beliefs you have inadvertently taken away the control from the person you are attempting to help.
This powerlessness is often disguised as a lack of motivation to take action. As you can probably guess this does nothing for their confidence.
Secondly the advice might be perfect for you but inappropriate for the receiver of the advice because,
Their unique set of circumstances may make it difficult to achieve.
Their might be some underlying issues that we are unaware of that might make our advice produce an even worst result then the person has at the moment.
While we can not control what values and beliefs we bring into any conversation, we can control the way we let them influence the conversation.
Do not try and fix the problem
As you can probably guess by now, it is not our place as listeners to give advice or fix problems for the person we are listening too. This goes for whoever you are listening to, whether it be your children, a work colleague or a friend.
As parents this is often a hard one to do. When our kids start out as babies its our job to fix the problems. We fix the crying with a feed or change of the nappy. We make tears go away with our cuddles and kisses. And by doing this we get incredible rewards from all the love they bestow on us.
However to make our kids grow up to be independent, self confident and strong we must also learn how to slowly let go of our fix it hats. We must let our kids experiment and find their own solutions on how to fix the problems that they come up against.
What are Good Listening Skills?
Good listening skills help the person clarify their problems, and empower them to come to whatever solution or outcome is most appropriate for them.
While it is okay to offer alternatives for the person to consider, once offered you must let the person decide for himself whether or not to take on board the suggestions.
Remember that in teaching listening skill to our children, we need to be a good role model for them. All the information and listening tips that I have talked about above, I gained from my years as telephone counselor. This was before I was a parent.
My point here is that improving listening skills is not just about knowledge, its also about practicing.
Practice making sure you are genuinely interested, that you are not trying to fix others problems or that your own beliefs are not swaying your judgment.
Put reminders up around the house, practice with your kids, your partner or friends.
In this listening article I have focused what not to do when listening. I have also stated that teaching listening skills to our kids is all about being a good role model.
My next lot of listening articles will go into the techniques that I model for my kids when I am teaching them listening skills.
Why not subscribe to our blog to make sure you are
alerted when these articles are posted
(just click on the RSS button underneath the Nav Bar on the left)