If you’re like most parents, you want your child to be a good listener. After all, good listening skills are key to success in school and in life. Luckily, there are many things you can do to help improve your child’s listening skills. In this post, we’ll share some tips for improving your child’s listening skills. Keep reading for more information!
Why your child not listening
Children often selectively hear. They may omit a lot of the information you say and only pay attention to what they think is relevant to them. This happens for two reasons:
1. You child’s brain is still developing
Childhood development experts say that a reasonable attention span to expect of a child is two to three minutes per year of their age. That’s the period of time a typical child can maintain focus on a given task or conversation.
Average attention spans work out like this:
- 2 years old: 4 to 6 minutes
- 4 years old: 8 to 12 minutes
- 6 years old: 12 to 18 minutes
- 8 years old: 16 to 24 minutes
- 10 years old: 20 to 30 minutes
- 12 years old: 24 to 36 minutes
- 14 years old: 28 to 42 minutes
- 16 years old: 32 to 48 minutes
2. Your child is continually taking in a lot of new information
Parents often take for granted how much new information our child’s brain is processing in a day. They are learning new vocabulary, motor skills, social skills, emotional regulation skills, as well as learning to read and write, math, computer skills, sport and music. The list is endless.
While it’s important to keep our child’s attention span into perspective, it’s also important to cultivate active listening skills from a young age. This helps facilitate good communication skills as the child grows up.
Here are 5 tips to improve your child’s listening skills:
Be a good listener yourself
Treat your child with the same respect you want to be treated.
When your child is telling you something, no matter how relevant, pay attention and respond to it.
Maintain eye-contact and paraphrase what your child tells you. This expresses that you’ve understood what he or she is trying to say.
Kids learn by imitating adult behaviour, so displaying good listening and communication skills provides them with a healthy model to imitate.
Communicate with them
Tell them about your day and the things you did in a way they can understand. Then proceed to ask them about their day and have them describe the events that took place. Listen and give them your full attention.
Be clear when assigning tasks
Hold your child’s attention by not over-explaining things to them. Be clear and concise when stating what’s expected of them.
If you’re giving your child a set of tasks to do, break down the task into small steps to ensure they understand what’s required.
For example: You may want your child to clean her room. If you say: “Go clean your bedroom, please.” The chances are that you will find your child ten minutes later playing with toys on the bedroom floor rather than doing what you asked.
Your child may not know what “clean your bedroom” means. But if you say: “I want you to clean your bedroom. To do that, please pack your toys into the toy box, make your bed and put your dirty clothes in the laundry basket.” Now they have a clear picture of the steps they need to take are more likely to listen and do what you asked.
Talk about things they find interesting
Talk to your child about something that interests them. Ask about recent events, friendships, books, games, TV shows they like. Talk to them like you would a friend.
Involve them in decision-making
When possible and safe, let your child make decisions. Ask your child which book they want to read, what game they feel like playing, what clothes they feel like wearing, etc. This builds their sense of autonomy and self-determination, which grows their confidence.
You can use the Superpower Kids ACTIVE LISTENER GAME printable to further improve your child’s listening skills.
If you’re interested in developing your child’s empathy, you may want to consider our Empathy Value Guide.
What is SEL, and How Can We Practice at Home?
7 Ways to Increase Emotional Connection