Listening refers to one’s ability to register, process, recall and make sense of what is being said to them.
Some children seem to be chronically bad listeners. It is crucial for a child to develop good listening skills in order to cope with the demands of school and as a basis for strong literacy skills. Good listeners are more likely to follow instructions, and to be able to express their ideas well in words. Listening is related to memory, too: it is very hard to remember something that you have not heard well in the first place. In fact sometimes poor listening is wrongly described as poor memory, particularly by teachers.
Listening involves many different stages:
|Auditory acuity:||How well does your child hear?|
|Alertness:||Is your child’s aware of the sound?|
|Registration:||Does your child actively register and notice that information is being directed at him or her?|
|Discrimination:||How well can your child distinguish similarities and differences in sounds?|
|Sequencing:||Is your child able to identify the order of information?|
|Memory:||How well can your child remember and retrieve that information?|
|Processing:||How well does you child process and make sense of the information?|
Good ways to give instructions and information:
Get down to your child’s level and obtain eye contact. If necessary, gently touch them on the face to turn attention to you.
There are many activities and games that you can play with your young child to develop the auditory requirements of listening activities.
Start teaching listening skills early.
It's never too late to start teaching these skills, since there's always room for improvement. But try to begin as early as possible. As children grow older, have "listening times" when you block out distractions. This includes switching the TV and electronic games off. If sitting still and talking is not your child’s thing, then go for a walk or a drive instead.
Listen to your children in the way you like to be listened to.
Be a good role model by hearing things in their words and making them feel important while they are talking to you. Reflect on their ideas, and encourage them, even if you don’t agree with them.
Let your child complete what he is saying.
"It's a waste of time to talk to my parents," a teenager pointed out. "They stop me while I'm speaking to say 'don't talk like that' or they break in and change the subject to something on their minds."
Set a good example by establishing eye contact with your child.
Children feel you're not listening when you're glancing out the window or peering across the room. Eye contact is of value from the earliest age, so teach your children to give and receive it by meeting them at their own eye level when you are saying something to them and when they are speaking to you.
Watch your tone of voice and facial expression.
Too often your voice and expression speak as loudly as your words, and if you are bored or cross while your children are talking, they're likely to react the same way to you while you are speaking to them.
Teach your children to indicate by their actions that they are listening.
Along with showing by your expression that you're paying attention to them, guide your children into showing by their expressions that they are listening to you. Actually when people say, "If only you would listen," they really mean "If only you'd show that you're listening."
Talk to your child about their interests.
Talk to your child about their current activities. Find out what they are interested in and develop your knowledge. If it’s a sport, watch it and read about it in the newspaper. For an activity such as surfing or music, buy specialist magazines. Learn how to play that computer game that is such an irritation. Memorise all the Yu - Gi - Oh characters from the website........
Know when to talk and when not to talk.
There are times to keep quiet, so develop your sensitivity. Wait until a teenager demonstrates a readiness to talk before you expect him to listen to your well-intentioned words. When a child comes home after a bad day in school, don't get on his back immediately with something you want him to hear.
Reward your children occasionally when they display good listening habits.
If children show they are good listeners, they should have an occasional reward. Giving them positive, specific feedback, attention and praise are very effective. In this way, if their attention span is short or they're easily distracted they see that if they listen and follow through on what you say, there may be an external reward at the end. Pretty soon, there is also an internal reward, as they learn that listening to you helps them to accomplish their goals.
|Listening skills are vital to communicate with others. Children who can listen effectively are more successful as friends and as learners. Although these skills can be learned, they begin developing in infancy. Parents can provide many opportunities for children to develop their listening skills, and to encourage active listening in older children. You have the tools to help your child become a better listener - and so become a better communicator, too.|
Jenni Pearce, Psychologist (2009)
Child & Educational Psychology
6 Edward Street, NORWOOD 5067 South Australia, Australia.
Telephone: 0407 726 332
Fax: (08) 8362 0332