The Discipline of Listening in Pro-Active Parent Coaching Part 1 by Gregory BlandJul 31st, 2011 | By Greg Bland | Category: Parenting
Genuine interest is an essential ingredient in listening (to our children) and genuinely expressing that interest keeps conversation flowing. There is nothing more disheartening than beginning to open up and share your heart with someone only to have them appear disinterested.
There is something unique that takes place within our hearts and minds when we are able to articulate what we are passionate about, what God is doing within us, how He is challenging our faith and developing our character, or simply have someone to listen as we work through our struggles. Our children truly are no different from us in this regard.
How we listen to our children affects the quantity & quality of information we receive from them. Genuinely listening opens their heart’s door allowing them the freedom to share what is important to them.
The big question for us then is, How do I communicate interest in what my child is saying? Effective listening involves the parents whole body, not simply our ears. Practicing the following principles will do two things, one, it will communicate interest to our children encouraging them to open up, and two, they will help us to stay focused and hear what our children are really saying.
- Make a sincere commitment to be an effective listener. If we are going to ask effective questions which open our children up, it makes sense to listen so that we truly understand.
- Make and maintain eye contact. Maintaining eye contact as opposed to letting your eyes wander around the room communicates interest in and value upon what our children are saying.
- Stop what you are doing and give undivided attention. As I was writing this, my son came up to my desk and was trying to explain to me about a decision he made. In the midst of writing, I recognized I wasnt receiving all of the information and paused for a moment to explain this to him. Josh, because I was so intent on what I was writing I missed most of what you said. I do want to hear you and understand whats on your mind so would you please repeat what you were saying to me? At first he was hesitant because he realized he interrupted me, after ensuring him that I wanted to hear, he opened up again and shared.
- Avoid interrupting. There is nothing more frustrating than being asked to share something, only to be interrupted as you do. Allow your child to finish their own sentences, no matter how anxious you are to jump in and finish their sentences, refrain. Doing so will communicate respect for them as an individual.
- Ensure you get all the information out on the table. Closely tied to the previous point, asking for more information prevents us from jumping to incorrect conclusions which adversely affect our judgment. Invite them to continue sharing, You mentioned __________, tell me more about that.
- Clarify to ensure you truly understand what the child intends to say. This simple step in the conversation communicates to our child that we are indeed listening, but further desire to understand them. It gives them an opportunity to confirm that we truly understand what they are intending, or correct our thinking if we do not. What I am hearing is _______________________, is that what you mean? Giving our children the freedom to confirm we understand or correct us if necessary, communicates that we are not only listening but want to understand.
Practicing the above principles will communicate that we are interested in what our children are saying, and help us maintain a focus upon them as they speak.
I leave you with one question today, What will you do differently next time you have a conversation with your child?
Join us next time as we talk about the greatest ingredient in effective listening.
Until next time, enjoy your journey into Pro-Active Parent Coaching.
Your friend and pro-active parent coach
*Gregory and Lynn Bland currently reside in beautiful Nova Scotia, Canada. They have recently completed writing their parent coaching book, “Pro-Active Parent Coaching: Capturing the Heart of Your Child, A Parents Guide to Coaching.” Additionally they are providing pastoral care, and participate in various speaking engagements. For more information visit Pro-Active Parent Coaching or write to email@example.com.