If we want our children to become assertive adults able to express their opinions with confidence, we need to show them that their ideas have value by actively listening to them. In this video you’ll find five tools to improve your listening. If you don’t understand Spanish you can read them below:
1-Lean forward: this is especially important with toddlers. Make eye contact and nod occasionally.
2-Repeat what they say: Children need proof that we are listening. We need to listen out loud or they won’t be satisfied. For example, if they say “I learned a magic trick today” don’t just answer “Wow! That’s impressive!” or they will repeat it again “I learned a magic trick”. Say something like: “You’ve learned a magic trick? That’s amazing!” instead so they can move on. If possible try to repeat it again later in the day (maybe at dinner time, or even the next morning). That will boost your child’s confidence even more.
3-Do not interrupt: even thought you’ve already understood what he is going to say don’t finish his sentences. Don’t jump in and don’t put words in his mouth. Show him that you care about what he has to say.
4-Use a substitute: sometimes we just can’t listen. We may be busy working, or maybe we are in the middle of an important phone call. But if your toddler wants to tell you something he wants to do it “now”. He won’t understand that “he needs to wait 5 minutes” and, what’s worse, after those 5 minutes he may have forgotten what he wanted to tell you in the first place. It is so frustrating when we ask them “what was it that you wanted to tell me?” and they don’t know. Next time try this trick: ask him to tell his idea to a little toy and then give it to you. Just the act of repeating the idea while thinking about sharing it with you later can make it stick in his mind. Then, when you are free, take the toy and go ask him about it. He will perceive that, even though he may not be our top priority every single second, we do care about the things he wants to share and we do value his ideas
5-Respect their opinions: kids grow super fast. One day they are our babies and the next day we take them to a clothes shop and they announce that they like the most hideous t-shirt. Allow your child to have differences of opinion and respect his points of view and his tastes.
What other tools do you use to listen to your children? I’d love to read them!