“Don’t speak while being spoken to!”
“Do you have wax in your ears?”
“Zip those lips and listen for once!”
“How many times do I have to tell you the same thing?”
Do you find yourself saying things like this often? Developing your child’s listening skills at an early age will make both of your lives easier. Better yet, it will set your child up for lifetime of good relationships and career success.
What is listening?
Have you ever asked your child to define listening? More importantly, have you ever asked yourself the same question? Many of us confuse listening and hearing. The key difference between the two: attention.
Dictionary.com defines the verb listen as:
- to give attention with the ear; attend closely for the purpose of hearing; give ear.
- to pay attention; heed; obey (often followed by to): Children don’t always listen to their parents.
- to wait attentively for a sound (usually followed by for): to listen for sounds of their return.
4 Reasons why you need to teach your child to listen effectively
- Human relationships are built through communication. Learning to listen is vital to creating strong and healthy bonds with others. In the words of bestselling author and activist Bryant McGill, “One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.”
- Listening effectively enables children to expand their knowledge and understanding of the world.
- Being a good listener is not only an important interpersonal skill. Listening and being aware of our surroundings can protect us from danger, alert us to opportunity and ensure that we know how to follow instructions from our teacher or boss.
- To be a functioning (or better yet successful) member of society, we need to be able to listen. Brigette Hyacinth, international bestselling author and speaker on leadership, named listening as the most important skill a leader can posses.
5 steps to teach children to listen
These steps may seem obvious and simple but the real challenge is not understanding them, it is mastering them. It will require time, practice and lot of patience but the sooner your child masters these steps, the better.
- Stop! Teach your child to stop whatever he or she is doing when someone is speaking to them. That means game paused, toys down and eyes off the T.V.
- Look! After mastering the art of stopping, children must learn to look directly at whoever is talking to them.
- Think! The next step is learning to interpret what has been said and what should be done with the information. Is there a task to be completed or knowledge to attain?
- Repeat! Ask your child to repeat things back to you. This allows you to correct errors in understanding and helps your child to reinforce the first 3 steps of learning to listen.
- Draw! Learning to draw or doodle consciously while listening is a surefire path to genius. Practicing this skill from an early age will boost your child’s listening skills to epic proportions!
Here are some activities that will help you to teach your child to listen. Be sure to incorporate the 5 steps discussed above. But most importantly, have fun with it!
Kath lives with her husband and 3 young children in a small coastal town in South Africa. She is a speech therapist, who worked in London, Private Practices in Cape Town and KZN and then finally taught at Livingstone Remedial School in KZN, South Africa for 3 years. During this time, Daren Denholm, her memory guru husband, trained her up to compete with him at the 2011 World Memory Championships in China, while she was 6 months pregnant with their first child! The Chinese competitors complained that she was cheating because she had 2 brains. She sat next to the youngest competitor, a 9 year old Chinese girl. It was at this point that the Online Little Genius Puppets program was conceived.
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