Listening skills are a crucial part of a child’s development, but does your son understand why listening is important? Beyond needing to listen at school to learn and follow instructions, listening skills are an integral part of forming positive personal relationships and social skills. The ability to listen enhances communication skills and emotional development from early childhood through to adulthood.
Here are four simple steps for teaching your son the importance of listening:
1. Show him your ability to listen
It can be frustrating when parents feel they are talking to a brick wall when trying to communicate with their children. While we often demand our children’s attention, have we taught them how to be active listeners first? The most effective way to do this is by showing your son you are capable of and actively listening to him. Set aside time to sit down and listen to what your son has to tell you. Make eye contact and repeat back to him what he is saying to ensure he feels heard and has an understanding of how it feels to have someone listen to him. Show your son that you are listening by maintaining eye contact, taking an interest in his stories, asking him relevant questions and summarising what he has said.
2. Engage in positive conversations
Conversational skills are an integral part of development and it’s important to teach and practise these skills with your son from an early age. Teaching your son not to interrupt you while you are talking sets a precedence to behave in the same way towards others as he grows. Reward moments when your son achieves this by drawing attention to his positive conversational skills, which can include waiting for his turn to speak. Praise him when he asks appropriate questions that show he has been listening to what others have to say in a conversation.
3. Ask him to repeat things back
This is an effective technique to allow your son to develop the skills to focus his attention in conversations. Having to retain what is being said in order to repeat it teaches him to really listen and engage with what he hears. When giving your son instructions, ask him to repeat what he needs to do back to you, to ensure he has an understanding of the conversation and gets in the habit of learning to really listen.
4. Read with your son
Reading with your son is of course fantastic for developing literacy and reading skills, but it is also beneficial in enhancing listening skills. Take turns reading a book, newspaper or magazine article together and ask your son what he thinks of the content. This will allow your son to practise focusing on and engaging with verbal content before having to formulate a response – enhancing his listening and critical thinking skills.
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