Dr. Kay Kuzma
Being a good listener is a simple way to show you understand and care. Here are some guidelines to follow:
1. Show interest in your child’s conversation. Look up. Make appropriate comments. Stop what you are doing.
2. Don’t correct his speech while he is talking to you.
3. Focus on the hidden message—if you think there might be one.
4. Don’t contradict his story or the points he is making until he has finished and wants your opinions.
5. Don’t squelch a child when he voices offbeat values or comes to an impossible conclusion. Don’t laugh, make fun of, belittle, tear down, or in any other way make it more difficult for a child to open up his heart and ideas to you in the future.
6. Be an active listener. Active listening means active involvement with the person who is communicating. To show that you are actively listening, make little expressions of understanding, such as, “Yes,” “Aha,” “I see,” etc.
7. Encourage your child to talk, to express himself, and to share his values and goals. One way to encourage your child to share his world with you is to have a “talk about it” bowl or basket that sits on the kitchen table. During the day, the children can put objects, notes, newspaper clippings, or articles into the bowl that they would like to talk about during dinner.
Write a variety of questions on paper placemats. …Choose questions that will stimulate a good conversation. When the dinner conversation seems to drag, read off a question, like, “What would you do if you just inherited a million dollars?” Or, “If you knew you were going to die in one month, how would you spend your time?”
8. Children should be encouraged to communicate on the feeling level.
If children are going to learn to communicate their feelings, then you must encourage them to do so. Does your child know that it is safe to say, “Mommy, I feel sad. Hold me a little bit.” “Mom, I feel discouraged. Do you have a minute to talk?” “Dad, I got angry when you spoke to me like that. Can we discuss it?”
What kind of communicator are you? For one hour while your whole family is together, record your conversation. Then analyze your interactions.
Excerpted from the book "Prime-Time Parenting" by Dr. Kay Kuzma.