Active listening vs Passive listening
Some parents might think “I listen to my child all the time!” But are you actively listening? A rule of thumb is that if you are not actively listening, you are passively listening. Passive listening happens when parents hear what their child is saying but do not understand and respond to them (which can be detrimental towards your child). Active listening on the other hand requires parents to be engaged (which can be expressed in different ways) while trying to understand the point their child is trying to convey.
Scientifically-proven benefits of active listening
1. Boost childrens’ self-esteem
Young children view their parents as role models. If their views are valued and respected by their parents, this can have a positive effect on their self-confidence. Active listening is even more important for children who are insecure or find it difficult to communicate their thoughts.
2. Develop practical and social skills
As a child’s confidence increases, they might also gain new skills. Practicing active listening with other children can help improve social skills while interacting with adults offers opportunities to gain practical skills (how to tie a shoelace, operate a camera etc).
3. Promotes uniqueness and individuality
By actively listening, parents can signal to their child that their opinion is valued. This is important because it can help children establish and communicate unique opinions more easily while being less susceptible to groupthink.
4. Teaches children that other opinions matter
When we do not listen and value each child’s opinion, this signals to them that individual views are not important in a group setting. Conversely, when we actively listen to each child’s thoughts, this signals that each individual is valued and we should consider each individual’s opinions.
5. Increases motivation to learn
Research has shown that paying attention to childrens’ experiences of autonomy directly links to their motivation to learn. When children learn new things they often challenge assumptions and express their thoughts and interests. Having this insight into a child’s interests and priorities can provide insight into their latent capabilities.