How to Ensure Effective Active Listening When Talking to Children


Parents sometimes listen to their kids, hearing the words they say but not listening actively. Active listening goes beyond hearing what they are saying and instead trying to understand the deeper meaning behind their words and letting them know you are listening actively. Active listening is about being wholly present in a conversation and fully attentive in a conversation.

Active Listening and Positive Questioning

Active listening goes hand in hand with positive questioning. Both are at the centre of communicating effectively with a child. It helps a parent better understand what the child is trying to say, with positive questioning being a vital tool in getting more details from a child.

Active listening and positive questioning are also important tools for conflict resolution. It helps a parent better understand the emotions and thinking behind a child’s actions so they can take steps to correct them.

Parents should develop active listening early because children often know when an adult is not paying attention to what they are saying.

Active listening is also important for letting a child understand they can come to you with something and that you can help them with it. It is also critical to gaining a child’s trust, understanding their interests and gaining insight into their thinking processes.

Lastly, active listening and positive questioning are crucial for parents who want to become foster carers. Foster children want to feel loved, listened to and cared for. Active listening can help with all these. Those interested in becoming foster carers can visit where they can find more information on the process.

Avoid Distractions

Reducing the number of external distractions when conversing with a child is important. These distractions could be noise or other things going on around you. Talk to the people around you to reduce distractions, and then encourage your child to engage in a fruitful conversation. If reducing distractions around you is not possible, consider moving your conversation to a quiet area.

Make Eye Contact

Body language is crucial when having a conversation. Good eye contact when talking to a child shows that you are open to listening and that they have your full attention. You should also ensure that the child makes eye contact so that they are not distracted. A good way of doing this is using their name repeatedly during the conversation as children pay attention when you do this.

Also, remember to find a balance between making eye contact and staring. Doing so can be off-putting, making the child embarrassed or afraid of saying what they would like.

Use Silence

Many people are uncomfortable with silence during a conversation. However, silence can be a good way of giving a child time to put their thoughts together. Silence is also an incredible tool during conflict resolution as it can help the child find the words to describe their emotions in such situations.

Active listening is something every parent should practise as it can help a child feel heard and understood. It is also a good way of earning their trust because they know they can rely on you and have your full attention when needed.