As a parent, it’s an exciting time when your little ones start talking. But while children can be chatty and vocal with their new-found voices, they may not be very sure about expressing their feelings the right way. During this time, your actions and words can leave the deepest impressions on your kid, so be sure to put your best ear forward, no matter how funny or awkward their little speeches may be!1
One of the most important things a parent can learn is to listen objectively. It’s the first step to solving problems, and allows you to forge a stronger bond with your kid.2 Your little one will only confide in you when he or she trusts and respects you, and it’s only fair that you take time to listen actively.
The 5 attitudes to help develop active listening:
Listen first, react later
Be the first to lend your ears and listen to what your child has to say before reacting. The key is to keep quiet, and let your child finish speaking, even if it might be tempting to react before they’ve finished their piece. Try to practice patience and manage your own emotions in order to react objectively without jumping to conclusions4. If you find yourself getting impatient, count from 1 to 10 before reacting.1
Make time to share
You’ll need to multitask a lot as a parent, so try and carve out time to listen. It’s only natural that certain things might fall through the cracks when life gets busy, and this is why it’s extremely important to show your little one that he or she has priority. Simply take a few minutes per day to let your child share how their day has been going.1,2, 5
Yes, tell me more!
Toddlers are people too! Do everything that you would when speaking to an adult: maintain eye contact even if it means kneeling down; use body language cues like leaning forward; and don’t multitask while they’re talking.1 Instead of interrupting with your opinion, try making affirming sounds like ‘Mmm’ and ‘Wow’ to encourage them to continue sharing.2,3
Guide, not direct
There might be times you’d feel tempted to interpret what your little one one is trying to say to you, and offer a solution to help them along. But hold back, and ask questions to let them come to their own conclusions. Gently and with patience, ask why he or she feels that way, and guide them in the right direction with empathy and understanding.5
Feelings come and go
No matter how upset your child is, remember bad feelings never last forever.2 Learning how to appropriately release pent up emotions isn’t easy, and it’s something that even can adults get wrong. Giving your kid a safe space to express themselves when they’re upset can make for a rich learning experience, and build bonds.
Active listening can be a tricky thing to master but it’s something that will always gets better with practice. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes! After all, there is plenty of joy in parenting when you get front row seats to growing and learning with your little one .