Thursday, July 10, 2014

How to Listen


Listening is a huge part of parenting.  I would say parenting is 60 percent listening and 40 percent teaching.  Many parents rush to judge or lecture when their child starts to talk to them, but if you hold yourself back from lecturing (I know it's hard, sometimes I have to bite my lip to stop myself) you'll be surprised how often they can and should solve their own problems.  And it is always more effective if they do, because they listen to themselves more than they listen to us.

You, of course, can ask guiding or leading questions, but try not to give them the answers.  Let them figure it out as they talk to you.

Here are some tips on a type of listening called reflective listening which is really effective with kids and with your spouse.

1. Listen to the whole problem.  Let them finish.
2. Reflect back to them what you heard.  Say, "So what your saying is that you don't have time to clean your room, and do your homework, and hang out with friends?"
3.  Let them correct you if you are wrong.
4. Reflect it again, and see if you got it right.
5.  Ask them how they think the problem could be solved to make both people happy.  Hold back from giving advice.
6.  Just listen.  Be willing to try solutions even if they aren't your first choice.  Be supportive.  Let them try things even if you think it won't work, then re-visit the issue in a couple of days.  Use your reflective listening skills again.  Ask them what they've learned and what new thing they think they should try.

I promise this will work better than any lecture than you can give and it will make them feel loved and supported and empower them to solve their own problems and work toward compromises...which is what we all want for our children!

Here is a book that explains the process in depth, and is really fun to read:

How toTalk so kids will Listen and Listen so Kids will Talk, by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish

Here is a link to an article on "Active Listening" that is also really informative!

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