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How To Be A Good Listener

Listening is an active process that requires effort and attention. It can be difficult, especially in fast-paced or emotional situations, but the benefits are clear:

When we really listen to someone, we create a connection. We show that we care. And when we practice active listening, we show others how we want to be treated, too.

Follow these simple tips in your everyday interactions and experience the benefits of listening well:

Be Present

Yes, your life as a parent is incredibly busy. But make sure to give your conversations the attention they deserve.

When you're talking to your kiddo, give them your full attention. Listen to their words and their tone of voice. Pay attention to their body language. And most importantly, try to understand what they're saying and why they're saying it.

Silence your inner monologue, make eye contact, and ask questions. You may be surprised at how much more you learn when you simply take the time to listen.

Avoid judging or criticizing.

When we listen judgmentally, we tend to fixate on finding faults or flaws instead of focusing on understanding the other person. This shuts down communication and can even create conflict. 

When we truly want to listen to our kids, we create an environment where they feel safe to open up and share their thoughts and feelings. Focus on empathizing with them and try to see things from their perspective. Then, share yours as the adult to help guide them. 

After all, you’d want them to do the same for you and others, right?

Focus on understanding over replying.

How many times have you been in a conversation, but you couldn't really hear what the other person was saying because you were thinking about what you were going to say next?

As parents, it can be in our nature to unintentionally amplify this trait, because we’re even more concerned with controlling the conversations we have with our kids. It can be difficult to truly listen to them, especially when we feel like we have something important to say to ourselves. Instead of planning our response, however, we need to focus on our child and truly hear what she is saying in its entirety.

When we do this, we show that we care about them and that we value their ideas and feelings.

Respond thoughtfully and honestly.

And when it is time to respond, give your honest opinion as the adult! Being a thoughtful listener means carefully crafting a response, with consideration of what the person is already feeling and how she may feel when you reply. This doesn’t mean sugarcoating or lying just to make your child feel comfortable or to make her like you. You are more than a best friend to your child, you are their guardian. 

This also models the behavior to your child that to listen and respond well also means being honest in your reply. If you understand or agree with a person, share your appreciation and delight or offer praise. On the other hand, if you disagree or do not understand, you should speak openly and clearly about that, too.

Express what is on your mind with both honesty and respect. You might find that the conversation becomes better because he will see that you listened before you replied.

And even if it doesn't, you'll at least have the satisfaction of knowing that you really listened, and made an effort to see things from your child’s point of view.

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