How can I practise active listening?

Listening is a really important life skill for parents. When your child feels listened to, they know that you are making a genuine effort to understand them.

Active listening means really concentrating on what is being said. It can help two people understand each other better and can strengthen relationships.

Man and son laughing with happiness as they look at each other
  • Concentrate completely on what your child is saying. Hearing is not listening. You should stop what you’re doing. Crouch down to your child’s level. Make eye contact with them. You want to show your child that they have your full attention.
  • Avoid interrupting them. Let your child finish their sentences at their own pace. You don’t want to make a judgement based on only half of a statement. It may be hard for them to find the correct words to use. Give them the time to express themselves. Don’t try to finish their sentences for them. This could make them feel frustrated and misunderstood.
  • Repeat back to your child what they said. Once your child has finished speaking, say back to them what you’ve understood. It doesn’t need to be the exact words. You can add details and suggest an emotion that they may be feeling. If you’ve got it right, your child will agree with you.
  • Don’t worry about naming the wrong emotion. If you’re not clear whether your child is sad or angry or scared, it’s okay to guess. Your child may not know the correct word but you’ll be able to work it out together. Often, a child will correct you if they think you’ve got it wrong.
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