Nature gave us one tongue and two ears so we could hear twice as much as we speak.
Listening is the most basic way we show respect, and one of the most important fundamentals of all human relationships. When we help our kids learn to listen well, we give them an invaluable tool for life. And each time we listen with an open heart to what our children have to say, they learn from our example to do the same for us.
Below you will find some practical ways to teach and model good listening. May these techniques enhance your relationships with your children, and help them have postive interactions with everyone in their lives. Listening compassionately is one of the greatest gifts we can give. It's also a teachable skill. So start now, and then enjoy the good things that follow.
p.s. A number of you have asked me for an update on workshops and keynotes you can schedule for your schools, parent groups, communities, places of worship, or workplaces. Here they are:
- Resolving Conflicts and Managing Anger
FOSTERING GOOD LISTENING
When you listen, the integrity and wholeness in others moves closer.Your attention strengthens it . . . In your presence, they can more easily inhabit that in them which is beyond their limitations.
The first way we teach good listening to our children is by the way we listen. Think of the effects of this as our children grow. Imagine our kids as the leaders of tomorrow that they are. The long-range impact of learning how to be an effective listener will shape the way they interact with people, perhaps for the rest of their lives.
The following are important 5 ways you can model and teach good listening to children of every age:
1. Make a commitment to listen more than you speak. Theologian, Paul Tillich once said, *The first duty of love is to listen.* Be generous with your listening. Listening is a way of honoring others. When we truly listen we give the message -- YOU ARE OF VALUE. In listening to our children and teaching them to listen to us, we set in motion a circle of giving and receiving the essence of one another. Exercise: Next time you are with your child, try listening more than you speak. Make eye contact, nod, and encourage your child to go on. If extraneous thoughts pop into your head, let them go and bring your focus back to your child. Notice what happens when you do this.
2. Catch yourself when you have the impulse to interrupt. Breathe deeply and let the impulse pass. The more you do this with your kids, the more you can expect them to do the same for you. If you have a tendency to interrupt, as most of us do, let your child know you are working on this. Ask him to do the same. Make caring listening a goal for every member of your family. Exercise: Do this with your children --Try going through a whole day without interrupting. At the end of the day reflect on how it went. Was it easy or hard? What kind of responses did you each get from the people you listened to. Talk this over together.
3. Choose a time each day when you can listen to your child with complete focus. Start off with 5 minutes a day. Then see if you can expand it. Let your kids know when you are not able to listen too. Listening is not just about hearing -- it also involves noticing body language and being aware of nonverbal cues. Help your kids notice when you are too pressured to give your undivided attention, so the times you can are offered with an open heart. The ability to tune in can be taught -- first by our example, then by being clear on what we expect and acknowledging our kids each time they do it.
4. Have a family meeting and go over this good listening chart for kids ( you may want to post it too): Secrets to Good Listening ~ Look at the person who is speaking. ~ Think about what they are saying. ~ Keep your focus on the speaker instead of your own thoughts. ~ Resist the urge to interrupt. ~ Comment or ask questions. (Example: It sounds like you had a great time at the shore.)
5. Teach your children how to use reflective listening. Try a game called, *I Heard You Say . . .* Take turns being the speaker and the listener. The listener asks a question from the list below. The speaker answers, then the listener reflects back (paraphrases) what was said, starting with the phrase, *I heard you say...* Each time the listener paraphrases accurately, the speaker gives a thumbs up. Otherwise repeat what was said and try again. Avoid one-word responses, but keep what you say brief enough for the other person to remember. Or break your response into parts that can be paraphrased a little at a time. Questions you can use: Could you describe your favorite thing to do when you have free time? What is your earliest memory? If you could be anything you wanted, what would you be and why? What is your favorite holiday and why? What is your favorite book and why? What is something that really gets you mad, and why? If you could go anywhere in the world where would it be and what would you do there? Who is someone you really admire and why? Playing this game, will help your child master the complex skill of reflective listening, something especially valuable when conflicts arise.
* * * * * * * *
How does compassionate listening relate to peacemaking? When we listen
deeply, we gain insight into truths beneath the surface. Obscured shades of
sharpen and clarify. The essence of the other person peeks through, and bonds
of trust begin to form. When this happens, greater possibilities for
communication and understanding start to unfold.
Take a look at where author/peacemaker,Gene Knudsen Hoffman, says
compassionate listening can lead:
Naomi Drew is the author of five books. The first four are available through
Her upcoming book The Kids Guide to Working Out Conflicts: How to Stay Calm,
Cool, and Safe, will be released in February, 2004.
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Website : Learningpeace.com
Copyright Naomi Drew, Sept., 2003 All Rights Reserved.
Love and Peace to All of You.
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