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Listening Strategies

Create a climate in which your child feels comfortable. Your non-verbal cues will send messages to your child, so consider the position of your chair, the tone of your voice, eye contact and facial expressions.

Give your child an opportunity to talk. Stop talking and give your child sufficient time to complete his or her thoughts and process what has been said.

Demonstrate interest by asking appropriate questions. Questions can help you clarify your child’s thoughts and suggestions. Be sure that you are interpreting what has been said correctly.

Listen to the complete message. Listen to the total message before forming a response.

Encourage your child to talk. Use door-opening statements (“You seem distracted today…” or “Tell me what is going on…”) that invite a response.

Focus on content, not delivery. Avoid being distracted by your child’s poor grammar or manners. It is what is being said that is important.

Listen for main ideas. Try to pick out the conversation’s central theme.

Deal effectively with emotionally charged language.
Be aware of words or phrases that produce anxiety and trigger emotions.

Identify areas of common experience and agreement.
Note similar experiences of your own or offer a shared point of view to communicate acceptance and understanding.

Deal effectively with whatever blocks you from listening. Be aware of personal blocks that may prevent you from hearing what your child is saying.