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Teach Your Children Listening Skills

Posted Oct 23 2008 1:38pm

It's 12:35 a.m., Monday morning. I am not feeling well. I am not sure if it's something I ate or just my illness. I have also been struggling with multiple skin infections. I have suffered from these for over 4 years now. This "most recent" group of infections are going on four months now. Just can't seem to get a handle on these horrible irritating infections. So it could be a mixture of things that are making me sick right now. I appreciate your prayers. I hope you enjoy the below article on parenting. Hopefully I will feel better later on in the day to visit your posts.
God Bless,

Teach Your Kids Listening Skills
By Jodie Lynn

"Michelle, why are you still coloring your face with the red marker?" asked Mrs. Johnson. "We are lining up to go to lunch, didn't you hear the instructions?"
As a seasoned teacher, I just couldn't believe that some kids were lacking so much in this area. What have they been doing all summer? Didn't anyone anywhere have them pay attention and work on their listening skills?

Ask any teacher (or even any parent) what their No. 1 complaint is and I'm pretty sure it will be the stress associated with the lack of listening skills in their students and kids. It isn't anything new. Nevertheless, it seems to be getting worse.

The lack of listening skills is a major challenge in the classroom and at home. It's the cornerstone for developing interpersonal relationships, and it's one of the most neglected skills in teaching environments. It's the other half of good verbal skills. It completes the cycle of communication, and it begins as early as two years of age.

Your two-, three-, four- and five-year-old may have just started some type of educational program or even a new activity for the very first time. Practice a few things to do in class and in the home now that will help them get off on the right foot. More importantly, you can watch as you teach your child these things and you will see them gain confidence in honing this new skill.

1. Teach them how to listen. Demonstrate why it's necessary for good communication with others. Make it fun and try a new game: tell them to talk, sit down and be quiet. Talk, sit down and be quiet. Talk, sit down and be quiet. Do it with them with about five seconds in between. Move it to 10 seconds and then 15. Giggles are allowed! It's repetition for this age group that helps them to learn a skill.

2. Make another game using a favorite doll or action figure. Storytelling is one of the very best ways to practice this skill. Let the doll or action figure tell a story. Then let the child practice by holding the item and let them tell a story. When you talk, show them how to listen. When they talk, show them how you are quiet and pay attention. Take turns repeating the story to each other to test their skills -- keep it fun.

3. Read to your child. This interaction teaches how to listen and helps practice the process while ensuring the child has an amusing experience. Before you begin, tell the child that you are going to zip their lips and then pretend to do it. Tell them you are going to lock the zipper and throw away the key. When they want to say something, get the pretend key and unlock the pretend lock and unzip the pretend zipper and let them talk. Of course, to be sure that they get it; they will want to zip and lock your mouth, and then unlock and unzip it too.

4. Encourage good listening skills. Try some of the following:
a. Establish a purpose for the communication.
b. Always have good eye contact by getting down on their level while talking.
c. Try to speak about an interesting or favorite topic.
d. Try not to stop what is being said for interruptions unless there is a question about it.
e. Offer nonverbal and verbal responses.
f. Divide listening and talking roles.
g. Pay close attention to what is being said, offer an opinion on it, and don't scream, holler or yell (or they will do it to you).
h. Ask the child to repeat what you have already talked about, but do so without drilling.
i. Don't forget to be attentive when they are talking as well; remember to be a good role model.

Even if your child is not entering school or childcare, begin teaching them listening skills anyway. It's a good idea to get started on this as soon as possible. If you do, interaction and communication in playgroups, home, play dates, school, and in many other places will be less stressful and more productive in the end. Childcare providers, camp directors, teachers, coaches and other parents will love you for it, guaranteed.

Jodie Lynn is an internationally syndicated parenting/family columnist who writes the Parent to Parent column. Her latest paperback book is Mommy-CEO: 5 Golden Rules, 2001 revised edition, which covers parenting/family and life/health issues. She and her family live in St. Louis, MO. To learn more about the author, or to buy Mommy-CEO items (and new Mom, CEO) merchandise, see for details.

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