As a parent, I know how excited you must have been when your child uttered his/her first word. This milestone marked the beginning of lots of talk, right? Perhaps from time to time, though, you imagine what it must be like to carry on a thought in your own mind without the seemingly constant requests for your attention from your child:) I know what that can be like... I'm a parent too.
One of the ways in which children develop positive self-esteem is by being listened to. Not just kind of hearing what they have to say, but really tuning in and connecting with what they're saying and how they feel. When children feel valued in this way, it does wonders for how they see themselves in the world. Here are three powerful ways to listen to your child:
Listen with your EYES
Look into your child's eyes whenever possible when he/she is speaking to you. This shows your child that he/she has your full attention and that you're really focussed on what they're saying.
Listen with your EARS
Really hear what your child is telling you. You can ask questions such as "What made you feel that way?" or "Why do you think that happened?" to help you focus more on listening to your child. Also, by extending the conversation with these questions, your child feels heard by you.
Listen with your HEART
Put yourself in your child's feel and try to connect with his/her feelingsâ. You can repeat some of the things your child tells you, and use a phrase like "It sounds like you feel... ". Your child will feel a sense of trust knowing that you understand his/her feelings.
Children feel good and accepted when they know that they are listened to attentively. As your child grows, he/she will feel comfortable sharing with you, confiding with you and sharing his/her life experiences with you when they know that they will be listened by you.
If you find it challenging at times to give your child your full "listening attention," consider what might be getting in the way. Are you multi-tasking while "listening" to your child? Is your mind busy thinking about other things when your child is speaking to you? Taking time each day to really listen deeply with your eyes, ears and heart when your child is talking can make a huge difference in the way your child feels about him/herself.
Children learn how to listen by having good "listening role models" in their lives. When your child truly feels listened to (especially by you!), their confidence increases... and who wouldn't want more of that? :)