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Parent-Child Connection

The Power of Active Listening: Connecting with Your Child on a Deeper Level

Verenice Hernandez-Herrera

As parents, we strive to build meaningful connections with our children, and active listening plays a crucial role in fostering open communication and understanding. Let’s explore what true active listening means and does not mean.  Let’s provide insights and practical tips to help you enhance your listening skills and strengthen the bond with your child. Let's embark on this journey of attentive and compassionate parenting together!

The Essence of Active Listening

Active listening goes beyond merely hearing the words spoken by your child. It involves wholeheartedly engaging with them, showing genuine interest, and creating a safe space for open expression. This is not easy…it may mean you will have to bite your tongue, stay still, give no feedback…just…truly…actively listen.  By practicing active listening, you validate your child's feelings, thoughts, and experiences, fostering a sense of trust and understanding.  As parents, our instinct may be to want to help solve their problems or give them ideas on how to solve their problems.  However, true active listening is exactly that…just listening…. They may ask for your advice or they may not and you will have to be okay with that because your role as an active listener is again to just listen… I know…It’s soooo hard sometimes!!  But this is a critical piece in building trust.

Be Fully Present: "Nurturing Connections One Present Moment at a Time”

To truly engage in active listening, be fully present at that moment with your child. Put aside distractions, such as phones or household tasks, and give your child your undivided attention. Maintain eye contact, adopt an open body posture, and convey a sense of availability and willingness to listen. By being fully present, you communicate to your child that they are important and that their voice matters.  I always found that laying down next to your kids at night right before they go to sleep is the best time to connect, talk and be fully present with no distractions.  It works for every age.  When they are toddlers, it’s great to help them soothe themselves and feel safe, as kids, it’s a great time to recap all the fun recess time stories and as teens, it’s a great time to talk about life, their thoughts, plans etc…

Show Empathy and Understanding:  Empathy: The Bridge to Your Child's World”

Empathy is a cornerstone of active listening. Put yourself in your child's shoes and try to understand their perspective. Validate their emotions and experiences, even if you may not agree or fully comprehend them. Use phrases like "I can understand why you feel that way" or "That sounds challenging." This demonstrates empathy and creates a safe space for your child to express themselves openly.  Even asking them…do you want me to listen or do you want me to give you advice?  This is a great tool to give your child the power to decide what they need from you.  It also teaches them how to ask for help, which is an important life skill.

Practice Reflective Listening

Reflective listening is a powerful technique that involves paraphrasing and summarizing what your child has said. Repeat back their words or summarize the main points to ensure you understood correctly. This not only confirms your understanding but also shows your child that you are actively engaged and invested in the conversation.  It also gives them the option of clarifying what they meant and teaches them to advocate for themselves on how they feel.

Ask Open-Ended Questions

Encourage further conversation by asking open-ended questions that invite your child to share more details or elaborate on their thoughts and feelings. Avoid questions that can be answered with a simple "yes" or "no." Instead, ask questions like "Can you tell me more about that?" or "How did that make you feel?" This encourages deeper reflection and promotes meaningful dialogue.  Meaning dialogue is golden in the world of parenting!! When our kids learn to trust us and believe we are actively listening then the real flow of life-changing conversations can begin.

Practice Patience and Non-Judgment

Active listening requires patience and a non-judgmental attitude. Avoid interrupting or rushing your child during their expression. Create a space where they feel safe to share without fear of criticism or judgment. By practicing patience and non-judgment, you build trust and encourage your child's ongoing communication.

Active listening is a powerful tool that allows you to connect with your child on a deeper level. By being fully present, showing empathy and understanding, practicing reflective listening, asking open-ended questions, and maintaining a non-judgmental attitude, you create an environment where your child feels heard and valued. Embrace the beauty of active listening in your parenting journey, and watch your bond with your child flourish.

We hope these insights and tips help you cultivate attentive and compassionate listening skills.

Verenice Hernandez-Herrera

Our founder has been an educator and school counselor for 20+ years.
Read more about her here