Active listening is an important skill in any relationship and is all about building rapport, understanding and trust. When you actively listen to your child, you will hear what they are actually saying, not what you think they are saying.
When you are having a conversation with your child, encourage them to open up and talk by asking questions such as:
- 'How did that make you feel?'
- 'It sounds as if you were (angry/frustrated/excited), were you?'
Let them know that you understand by summarising the situation as you’ve heard it. This also takes the emotion out of the situation and allows them to see the facts.
- 'So let me see if I’ve got this right. You …Is that how it happened?'
Your child isn’t always looking for you to fix a situation or solve a problem for them. Avoid jumping in with advice, such as: ‘Well, just do this or that.’ Instead, help them move towards finding a resolution themselves by asking:
- 'What do you think is best thing to do now?'
Later, ask them how the situation played out. In this way, they’ll learn about how to process situations for themselves.
There is always more than one way to work through things. Having these sorts of conversations helps your child explore how they manage their relationships and gives them clues about how to communicate well with others.