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.



About Pepper

I am a single working mom, trying to raise my kid the best way I know how. Join me as I navigate my way through the jungle that is Single Mom-hood, armed with rose-colored glasses and strength of spirit. As pepper adds spice to food, so does my daughter add spice to my life. She makes life no less than…PEPPERRIFIC!

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  1. I agree Peps..listening is the best way also to make our kids feel important and worthy of our time..thank you for the tips Peps ;)

  2. thanks for sharing the tips, btw, i added your link to my link list, please do add mine as well..happy sunday

  3. You’re dead on with this post, Pepper!

  4. Great post! I think this is a great way to communicate with our kids.

  5. Mommy With Selective Memory says

    This is so true! A new study just published shows children are smarter if we listen and be patient but it isn’t always easy!!

  6. Kids like to know they’re being listened to, just like adults do. My students and my children get my (usually) full attention when they’re talking – it’s amazing how much I learn when I listen!

  7. I agree that listening is a very important parenting skill. You can understand the problem of a child only if you listen.

  8. Palm Coast Plantation says

    Wow, I never knew that it was called reflective listening, but at least I now know why it has worked so well for me over the years to connect with my children. See, even dads have good listening skills!

  9. This is really helpful. And most of the time my son will tell me if I am distracted and not listening to him. But these days I try to be more in the moment so I can listen and respond.


  10. I agree this is so important! They need to know that we think they’re important and especially that their feelings are important. Thanks for stopping by recently! Hope you have a great week!~

  11. this is true. I learned “active listening” in a college class for nursing. It is not only for kids! Everyone wants you to hear what they say…and listening is the key! Kids are perceptive..they know when you are blowing them off and when you are listening. I love this post!

  12. Listening is such an important skill to learn. I have to remind myself almost daily to STOP what I’m doing and really listen when my kids are talking. These tips are really great and I plan to try them out.

  13. This is SO true! How can we expect our kids to listen if we don’t show them that we care about what they say?

  14. Anne @ GreenEggs&Moms says

    I’ve read about this method in a book before. Repeating phrases allows both speaker and listener to calibrate on what is *really* being said and what is *actually* being heard. It’s an effective communication tool for any relationship.

    In the book I read, the exercise only stops until the one speaking is satisfied with the paraphrasing of the listener.

  15. Good advice, esp in preparation for those teenage years, when sometimes it’s all you can do to keep from blocking your ears, ha! If you’ve built up good communication with them while young, and they know that they can come to you and you’ll listen, then hopefully by the time they’re teenagers (and I’m talking even 10 and 11!) that relationship will still be there, (albeit very hidden at times!) and they will know they can turn to you!
    Have a great rest of the week!
    (new follower from VB!)

  16. Great post on communication! But I think that this could hold true not only for parent/child relationships, but also for any relationship. Sometimes, I find that people don’t listen, or I don’t listen, so I think this would be a good way to be able to stay focused.

  17. Agreed! It builds confidence in kids too. If the most important people to them think what they have to say is important that’s such a boost and will help them in dealing with the rest of the world.

  18. This is a great parenting tip! Thanks for sharing!

  19. This is a good habit for adults to develop. Oftentimes, when kids are going on tantrums, we instinctively scold them instead of trying to understand them first.

  20. Thanks usually I listen to him and it has a good feedback thanks

  21. great post about little people. i have a little daughter and sometimes, when i have lots of work to do and cant listen to her/watch her doing new things she learned i can feel how sad she becomes.

  22. you are welcome:)

  23. I completely agree Pepper. Thank you for sharing those thoughts with us…I’m off to go listen to my three year old!

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