Estimated: 3 minute read

How to Listen to Kids so They Will Talk

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A father engaged in conversation with two children at breakfast.

As adults, when we hear people talking about a problem, we tend to want to fix it. We tend to give advice and offer solutions.

The same thing can happen with parents and kids. For example: if a child is sad that they cannot go to the park because it is raining outside, a parent might offer to watch a movie inside. This is an example of offering solutions. If you are a parent who has been in a similar situation, you may already know that this does not typically solve the problem. The child may still feel upset that they cannot go to the park. So ,how do parents change the way that they listen and respond to kids so they will talk? Here are 5 ways that you can listen so your kids will talk to you!

1: Pay attention:

This one sounds simple, but is very important. Take a second to think about what you are doing when your child is talking to you. Are you cooking dinner? Are you watching a movie? Are you working on a project on your computer? Are you focused on another task? If you are, then it will be helpful to start focusing your attention on your child while they are talking to you. Turn towards your child, make eye contact, and really listen to what they are telling you. If you are watching TV or listening to music, it can help to lower the volume, pause, or turn off the TV in order to focus on your child.

2: Don’t interrupt:

Most people do not like it when they are interrupted in the middle of a sentence. The same goes for children! Give your child time to finish talking before responding. You can nod your head so they know that you are following along.

3: Acknowledge their Feelings:

As adults, we can try to use logic to explain why certain things cannot happen. For example: if a child wants to go to the park, and they are upset because it is raining, a parent could say, “well, you can’t go because it’s wet outside, and you could slip on the playground and hurt yourself.” Sometimes, this can just make things worse. It can help to acknowledge the feelings behind the statement that your child makes. In this specific example, your child may be upset, disappointed, or lonely because they cannot go to the park to play with their friends. As a parent, it’s helpful to acknowledge those feelings rather than trying to offer logical explanations. This will help your child feel heard and understood.

4: Lean into Wishes:

When kids are upset, sometimes we want to wave a magic wand and fix their problem for them! This is something you can say to your child. Lean into wanting to fix the problem in a way that plays to their imagination. You can say something like, “I wish I had magic powers to make it a sunny day,” or, “If I had a magic wand I would make the rain go away.” This can also make your child feel heard and understood, and serves as a way to show sympathy and care for them by feeling for their emotions. At times, that is all we really need.

5: Get down on their level:

We usually don’t attend meetings where we meet with someone who is standing while we are sitting. Try to apply this idea when you are talking with your child. If your child is sitting at the dinner table, on the couch, or even on the floor, get down on their level so you can show them that you are listening. This shows them that they have your full attention. This also shows them that you care about what they are sharing with you.

Listening promotes understanding and trust.

Paying attention, not interrupting, acknowledging your child’s feelings, leaning into their wishes, and talking to children at their level will help your child open up more. This will lead to your child to feel like they can talk to you more and will also help them feel like they are understood.

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Nina Iraheta wears a light blue sweater and has long dark hair streaked with blonde. She has a bright, kind smile.

About Nina Iraheta

In my free time I like to read, hang out with my cat, and attend live shows. I love a good suspense/thriller book, however I also love to spend the night singing along to my favorite artists at live shows! I also love to enjoy nature, go hiking, and it is a hope of mine to visit all of the national parks in the United States!

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