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The Secrets to Raising a Smarter Child
- By Inderbir Sandhu, Ph.D


Teaching Children the Power of Active Listening

By Andrew Loh

Teaching active listening to your children is quite difficult. However, you need not be a well-trained professional to teach this essential skill. With little bit of training, you can also teach the secrets of active listening to your children. Several methods and technique help parents to teach and train their children for active listening. Here are some of them:

Time machine method: This is one of the best methods to train your children for active listening. As soon as your children return from their school, you may wish to sit down by their side and start conversing about the events that happened during the day especially in their school. School is almost like a second home to your children. They like to spend their time in school and involve in the activities of the classroom. They will also listen to what their teachers say during the classes. One recommended activity that you can follow is to ask your children what happened in the school on the day and request them recite or repeat the sequence of events that happened during the day.

Now, your children will recite and tell you everything regarding what happened during the day. However, as a parent you must find out whether your children are completely correct or not. Therefore, you must encourage your children to recollect every event that happened during the day. You can encourage your children to enter a "time machine" where they can go back, experience each event, and recollect important words spoken by the teacher. While your children are trying to recollect things, you should participate in the conversation by cajoling them to remember the entire sequence of events.

Verbal Painting: This is an unusual method where your child will try to recite the entire sequence of events by emotionally narrating the story. Psychologically speaking, children are ill equipped to recall spoken words instantly. Hence, they always try to use lot of words, imageries and scenarios to explain things. Active listening in children could enhance when you teach them how to listen different words and relate them to different imageries and scenarios.

Reading method: Proactive listening should be the goal for every parent. You can become the teacher for your children in the evening. One of the best methods to teach active listening is to read stories aloud so that your children can listen to them together. Once you read the stories, you can ask them tell you different aspects of the story. This simple approach will help your children to develop the habit of listening to spoken words in rapt attention.

Chinese Whisper: This wonderful technique is world famous for its sheer brilliance. Class teachers can use this technique with their children. In nature, a simple message can be diluted as it is passed on to different people. The ability to understand and comprehend spoken word differs among different people. This is due to the lack of an ability to listen actively. However, this method can immensely help children to develop the habit of active listening. Parents may use this technique everyday to train their children in the art of active listening.

Sundry tips to help your children develop active listening:

  1. Choose a topic for the day and elaborate on it by telling your children the title and brief comment about the topic. You may wish to allow your children to think what will happen in the story.

  2. Ask your children what they know about the topic of the day.

  3. Read the story of the topic in an interesting and expressive manner; let the recital be very interactive and cajoling.

  4. Once you read the story, ask your children to recall it by narrating the text sentence by sentence.

  5. Repeat this action with all children and ask for individual opinions about the story. Allow this section purely for the benefit of children. Do not interrupt in the middle.

You can also ask a number of open-ended questions for engaging active listening. Some examples:

  • Do you know anything about the topic?

  • Did you listen to new information in this chapter?

  • Is there anything new in this chapter?

  • What was so important in that chapter? Why do you think so?

  • Did you miss any information?

  • Why this story so important?

  • Which part did you like the most?

  • What is the summary of the story?

Active listening can influence the way in which your children shape up in their future. With an ability to listen actively to other people, your children can succeed in their academics in a significant manner. Children who are poor in listening may take some to develop this skill. However, teaching this skill to your children at an early age will help them immensely both in classrooms and out of it.


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