Reflective Listening: Effective Parenting Skill

No matter how bored out of my wits I am, you would never find me talking to a wall.  I will not waste my intellectual diatribes on a non-responsive entity.  Same holds true for our kids.

We all know that our children adore us so much that it greatly matters to them what we think about what they have to say.  But how can we effectively give them our opinion if in the first place, we don’t know how to really listen to them?  Even a 6-year old does have some useful insight about the world around him, and it’s really important to him that his parents listen.  This is where reflective listening comes in.

Reflective listening means reflecting what the other person has just said.  It may entail verbalizing or paraphrasing what you’ve just heard, in order to let the speaker know that you understand what he’s trying to communicate with you.

This is an important parenting skill to learn, as this will help your kids open up to you more.  They will feel more comfortable expressing their feelings if they know that you won’t turn a deaf ear towards them.

So, how do we actually do this reflective listening with our children?  If for instance, you see your little girl screaming her head off, you can calmly ask her what’s bothering her.  You can use magic phrases such as, “So, you’re saying…”, or, “It seems to me like…”  If she tells you she’s angry at her friend for not wanting to play with her, you can say something like, “So, you’re furious at her for leaving you out of the game?”  You get the picture.

The key is in genuinely showing interest in what your kid has to say by letting her know that you understand her.  By expressing empathy, your kid becomes more comfortable opening up to you, and consequently feels secure that her mom supports her.

Communication, they say, is a two-way street.  We can’t expect to always make our kids listen to us if we don’t know how to listen in return.  We can make our kids feel that we truly understand their feelings by reflecting back what they have to say.  This will help build an atmosphere of trust between parent and child, and it will prove to be an invaluable tool as they grow up.