How to help your child feel heard

I recently wrote a post about getting our children to listen to us, without ending up shouting or nagging.

The main takeaway from it was to look at the way we’re communicating with our children, rather than focusing on the fact that they ‘never listen’.  One thing I didn’t really mention though, was how we also need to look at our own listening skills when we talk to our children.

If we want our children to listen to us, then we need to make sure we also really listen to them.

Our children need to feel heard, to know that we care and that what they have to say is important.  These tips on helping your child feel heard should help if you’re not sure where to start.

how to help your child feel heard

 

Let them talk

If your child wants to talk to you, let them talk.

Don’t interrupt them or try and ask questions until they’ve finished saying what they need to say.  Keep quiet while they talk and don’t try and finish their sentences for them or hurry them along.

If you really don’t have time to hear about it at that moment in time, then tell them that kindly and calmly.  Let them know that right now you need to focus on cooking dinner, but you would love to hear more about it later.  Then make sure you actually give them a chance to tell you about it later.

 

 

Be genuinely interested in what they have to say

Ok, I know this is easier said than done when your child has been telling you about Minecraft for half an hour, but try your best to show genuine interest in what they’re telling you.

Rhys in particular can go on and on (and on) about computer games he loves and if I’m honest I don’t always manage to show as much interest as I should.  It’s something I’m working on though, and there’s a quote that I often think of related to this:

“Listen earnestly to anything your children want to tell you, no matter what. If you don’t listen eagerly to the little stuff when they are little, they won’t tell you the big stuff when they are big, because to them all of it has always been big stuff.”

 

 

Let them know you care

There are a few things you can do while talking to your child to show them that you’re really listening and that you care about what they’re saying.

The first is to repeat back key things they’ve said to you, or clarify it with them by saying something like “it sounds like you’re saying…”.

You can then go on to ask some questions to get more information.  It can be as simple as, ‘tell me more about that’ or ‘and then what happened?’

Sometimes just a little ‘oh’, or ‘I see’ with the right inflection will show your child that you’re listening and want to hear more.

 

 

Be sincere

Whatever your child is telling you about, acknowledge that it is important to them.

Don’t make light of it or belittle them for wanting to talk about it.  If they want to talk to you about it it’s because it means something to them and they want to share it with you.

 

 

Now, in a perfect world we would all follow this advice and calmly and patiently listen to our children talk for as long as they need to, whenever they need to.  But I’m not sure that’s realistic for most parents.

Our lives these days are really busy.  We can feel rushed off our feet a lot of the time, and our minds are always full of the hundreds of things we need to keep on top of.

What we can do though is set aside time each day to talk to our children properly.

It might be in the car on the way home from school, over the dinner table or a chat at their bedside before they go to sleep.  Whenever you chose to do it, make a point of following the advice in this post and really use that time to listen to your child.

My hope is that by listening to my children as best I can now, about the seemingly trivial things (like Minecraft) and the more important things like what’s happening in their friendship groups, they’ll keep talking to me openly and honestly as they get older.

 

This post is linked up with KCACOLS.

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24 Comments

  1. 14/10/2018 / 2:30 pm

    I love this post. I’ve three kids and one of them is non-verbal so you’d think I’d have a handle on hearing the others – but not always the case. And it’s really important, esp for the youngest who so often feels left out or unheard. Thanks for linking up to #kcacols and hope to see you again next time!

  2. 14/10/2018 / 6:35 pm

    Wonderful tips. We’re really struggling at the moment with our daughter as she’s hit a super hormonal stage (she’ll be 8 soon) and seems to be spending most of her time screaming, crying, slamming doors and ignoring you…sigh
    You really end up pulling your hair and counting to 100!

    • 14/10/2018 / 6:35 pm

      I forgot to add #KCACOLS.. lol

  3. 14/10/2018 / 7:43 pm

    Excellent tips. It’s easy for us to forget when we’re busy juggling a million things, but it’s frustrating enough for adults to feel like they’re not being listened to, so for children it can be especially upsetting. #KCACOLS

    • This glorious life
      Author
      17/10/2018 / 2:58 pm

      That’s such a good point about remembering how it feels as adults when we don’t feel heard. x

  4. 15/10/2018 / 1:53 am

    Wonderful post! Great reminders! We sometimes forget that our children are little humans too. #KCACOLS

  5. 15/10/2018 / 7:58 am

    What a lovely post. As you say, it can be difficult in our busy lives, but we really should put this into practice. #KCACOLS

  6. 15/10/2018 / 2:18 pm

    This post is so important! When my kids were little, I was not good at this. Now that they are grown, I am working on this and it is improving our relationship! Just proof that it is never too late to change and for that change to make a difference!

    Sharing on Pinterest!

    #KCACOLS

    • This glorious life
      Author
      17/10/2018 / 2:47 pm

      Thank you so much. I think it can be really hard when our children are little, life feels so chaotic at times and they do like to ramble on at that age don’t they! I love that your relationships are stronger now they’re older though, it really is never too late is it. x

  7. 16/10/2018 / 9:09 pm

    Great reminder to listen just as much if not more than we speak. Thank you #KCACOLS

    • This glorious life
      Author
      17/10/2018 / 2:43 pm

      It’s so important to make sure we’re really listening isn’t it. x

  8. 17/10/2018 / 10:14 am

    Great tips. I always try to make it a point to have a one on one chat either to and from school, during dinner and before bed especially as he’s now at school. I also find that boys are less willing to talk about their day in depth whereas girls seem to explain everything that happened throughout the day, I’ll be using these tips to draw more info out of him LOL. Thanks for sharing x #KCACOLS

    • This glorious life
      Author
      17/10/2018 / 2:42 pm

      Love that you have those little moments each day that you can try and chat properly with him. x

  9. 20/10/2018 / 5:25 pm

    Some great tips here, it’s so easy to find your days so busy that you find no time to have a conversation at kid pace. We always try to eat dinner together as a family so we all have time to talk and to listen. #KCACOLS

  10. 21/10/2018 / 5:17 pm

    It’s so true that in an ideal world we would all do this. I do try so hard to do these things and I think I succeed most of the time… #kcacols

  11. 21/10/2018 / 9:56 pm

    I love posts like this that remind you of the simple stuff. A great read #KCACOLS

    • This glorious life
      Author
      24/10/2018 / 11:41 am

      Thank you, it’s these little, simple things that can have a big impact with our children isn’t it. x

  12. 24/10/2018 / 11:09 pm

    Great tips, so important to have good communication both ways with our children. My daughter and I have a “date” afternoon once a week after school. I have found that this ha really improved our relationship.
    #KCACOLS

  13. 25/10/2018 / 4:47 am

    Great tips you have here, We’re often too rushed to have a conversation at kid pace.

    #KCACOLS

  14. I remember coming across that great quote a few years ago and it really resonated with me. This is a very helpful post, and a good reminder of how important it is to really listen to our children. #KCACOLS

  15. 27/10/2018 / 10:41 am

    I have three & always worry about them having their voices heard as the older two tend to talk over the younger – great tips! #KCACOLS

  16. Beautiful post, and I too love that quote about it always having been big stuff to them. My son is non-verbal, but I still try to ’listen’ to him as much as possible. And I find it quite frustrating when I see parents who have children that CAN talk (unlike our boy) but the parents won’t listen to them. X #KCACOLS

    • This glorious life
      Author
      04/11/2018 / 9:16 pm

      Thank you. It’s so important that our children feel heard isn’t it. x

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