The Importance of Active Listening
There’s a difference between hearing and listening. Listening is important in any relationship. In a world where we are often focused on technology, it can be easy to make “listening noises” and say things like “mhmm” or simply nod. But are we really listening? We might be hearing their voice and catching a few words here or there, yet we are not actively listening to what they have to say. This can lead to our children feeling that what they have to say is not important to us, they can feel ignored or even unloved. So what can we do to change this? We can begin actively listening!
Active listening involves not only listening to the words being said, it also involves giving your full attention and focusing on body language. Giving someone your full attention and keeping eye contact while they are speaking demonstrates that you care about what they have to say. Asking questions about their story and reiterating their feelings also shows they have your full attention.
This type of listening will build trust within the relationship as well as show you respect what the person has to say. It is important that our children trust us and know that we care about their stories, big or small. Children often get over-excited about small things like getting to choose a book during story time at school. This may not seem important to adults, but it is important to them! Talking helps children process the emotions that are often too big for their little bodies! If we listen to their hopes and dreams, fears and victories when they are young, our children learn that we care about their world and are more likely to grow into teenagers and adults who continue to share their hearts with us.
That is what matters most; it’s something they will carry with them. Building their trust in this way will encourage them to come to us with their stories as they grow older and have heavier, more important things to say.
What is your child trying to tell you today?