Listening Improves Bonding

Learning & Experiences

Listening Improves Bonding

Listening: The key to better parent-child bonding.


Listen earnestly to anything your children want to tell you, no matter what. If you don't listen eagerly to the little stuff when they are little, they won't tell you the big stuff when they are big, because to them all of it has always been big stuff.' - Catherine M. Wallace, www.SpirituallyThinking.blogspot.com

Your child receives vital nutrients through breastfeeding and/or fortified formula during brain development. With the absorption of the right nutrients, they are then able to engage in their curiosities. At this stage, you can take the opportunity to explore the world with your child using simple cognitive exercises, such as looking for a fruit (like an apple) in a specific colour (like red) when you’re at the supermarket. That will also enable you to build unique bonds with your child. 

Indeed, listening to your child begins the moment they learn to express themselves. However, listening always seems to be more difficult than talking - especially for a parent who assumes a figure of authority to their children. We're prone to use phrases like 'Listen to me when I'm talking,' or 'Did you hear what I just said?' when reprimanding our little ones, without listening to their side of the story. 

Some children have difficulty expressing their emotions or articulating their needs. But simply by listening attentively and objectively, we open ourselves to understand them better and know how they feel about things or situations. 


Why is listening so important? Listening is always the first step in solving problems; e.g. the reason why she is crying, the explanation why he is afraid, etc. Listening builds closer relationships and respect, because your child invests trust in you, and you give him or her confidence in return. Listening also establishes a common understanding through stories shared. 

If you want your children to listen to you, you will first need to actively listen to them. By being attentive, you are better able to gather pieces of information on what is happening in your child's mind.


Here are some key listening skills for a parent:

Hear first, say later

Be the first to lend your ears. Be silent, and listen well to what your child has to say before reacting. If you are upset, count from 1 to 10 before reacting.
 

Make time to listen

As parents, our overly cramped daily schedules impede us from spending precious moments with our children. Time reserved for listening to how their day has been, or what happened at play school. Your child will not know when the 'perfect moment' is to tell you something, so always make time for them - even if it is just several minutes every day. 


Use body language

Show interest in what they have to say - maintain eye contact when speaking and listening, kneel down if you are speaking or listening to your toddler. Pay attention Nobody likes to be neglected when they are talking. In the same way, sit down with your child, do nothing else and concentrate when he or she is talking. Make them feel that their moment spent with you is important, and that they can be sure that you will always be there for them. 


Encourage them to tell you more  

Interject your conversation with encouraging phrases such as 'Please, tell me more', 'What else happened?', 'How do you feel about it?', 'What can you do about this?' and 'What do you think will happen if you do that?'. Doing this will urge them to open up more, without fear or hesitation. 
 
Friso Gold believes that growing up together means making time to listen to your child, as this makes two-way communication easier. Do not immediately resort to scolding or disproving what they have to say before keeping your ears (and mind) open to what they have to say. Give your child your undivided attention, and they are more likely to listen to you in return.


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