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The Value of Listening

Listening to your child is a crucial practice that nurtures a relationship of trust and understanding. Being misunderstood always made me feel small and dismissed as a young person. I remember vowing to always listen to children and let them express themselves and their feelings. Parents who understand the value of listening consciously set aside time to give their child undivided attention for a small portion of the day. Listening without interrupting, asking leading questions, or expressing your own judgement gives the child space to feel important enough to be listened to. Sometimes, listening includes moments of silence that help open up space for a child to express themselves. Listening can involve slowing down, breathing deeply, and making eye contact (if you both are comfortable with that).


You cannot listen carefully and consciously all day to every utterance of our child, but you can set aside fifteen to twenty minutes per day to simply listen if they want to talk. Hold back your criticism or concern and deal with them internally. Notice your own reaction to what your child is saying. Later, you can wonder about why you had those internal reactions and what they say about your own experience growing up. Were you listened to? When you expressed your needs or desires, were you validated or dismissed? When we give our kids attention that we did not get enough of ourselves growing up, we can get triggered and feel a sense of irritation. We may question the value of listening. The improvement in your relationship with your child may not be immediate but with time this powerful practice can strengthen bonds and raise self-esteem.


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