I remember the conversation as if it was yesterday. I had the opportunity to meet with a prominent Christian leader and I couldn’t wait to soak in his wisdom. As our time together began, I remember feeling instantly at ease with him. He was kind and attentive and began to ask questions about my life. He actively listened to me as if what I was sharing had value to him. His responses were well-timed and even though he didn’t say too much, I felt heard, encouraged and enriched by his wisdom. As our conversation neared its end, I remarked how I felt like I talked his ear off. He smiled and simply shared that people need to be seen and heard. It’s in those moments that God imparts exactly what the person needs to know. We just have to be still enough to listen.
Listening well is a discipline. Modelling attentiveness to our children when there are so many distractions can be difficult but they need to feel seen and heard. As parents, we have the unique privilege of being that sounding board for our kids. Listening to our kids is an important part of their development. Here are some tips to get you started…
When you listen well, you communicate safety.
Use the phrase, “Tell me more…” Stop filling in the blanks for your kids and let them discover for themselves the answers by guiding them with good questions and prompts.
Watch your tone. What we say matters but how we say it matters more.
Make eye contact. Looking your child in the eyes tells them that they have your undivided attention.
Mirror their comments. Repeat what your child is saying so that clarity can be given if needed.
Give appropriate physical touch. Sometimes a soft touch of the shoulder, or holding their hand emphasizes that you are listening.
Give thoughtful responses. Don’t use clichés. They need to know that you believe what you are saying. Pat answers do not work.
Practice active listening daily with your kids. They need to know that you truly see and hear them.