Listening to your kids is an important skill that parents must have. You can easily acquire by knowing the effective rules and practice them. Ignoring the expectations of kids might result in dare consequences in the life of your child. As you practice listening to your kids, they will start listening to you over time. When you notice that your child was involved in an activity that is not appropriate, let him explain first as he knows the real background and causes behind the scenes. Avoid using words like ‘don’t’, ‘you are stupid’, ‘you are foolish’, ‘you are grounded’ ‘you are retarded’, etc. These words have negative impact on the personality of your child and create more disconnects and disputes between you and your child.

Here’s what the experts have to say about listening to your kids and getting them to listen to you.

Listen closely

To start with, listening to your kids makes them more likely to listen to you. “The most important way to talk so your child will listen is to listen to your child,” says New York City psychoanalyst Gail Saltz, MD, author of several books. “If they feel listened too, they are more likely to be able to listen and will feel more understood, have more trust, and be more interested in what you have to say.”

Mark Kopta, PhD, chairman and professor of psychology at the University of Evansville, in Indiana, agrees. “You are much more likely to get a child to listen to you if first you listen to them,” he says. “My golden rule is, ‘When you have trouble with a child, listen to them first and then empathize with them.'”

Here’s how: “The first thing I would do is listen to the child or teenager, then reflect back how you think they are feeling, and then move into the issue at hand,” he advises. For example, if you catch a child with a pack of cigarettes, ask him about it and listen to what he says. Next, encourage your child to talk about his feelings, and reflect the feelings back as accurately as you can. Perhaps he tried smoking because his friends were all doing it, or because he wanted to appear older — two powerful impulses for impressionable preteens and teens. He may have the cigarettes for a whole host of reasons, so it is important not to jump the gun. Once you have determined what is going on, you will be better able to deal with the situation.

Listen to yourself first

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), it is important to consider what you plan to say before you respond to your child. Parents often make harsh statements out of anger or frustration. You may not really mean the angry words, but your child may never forget them. “Thoughtless comments or jokes that seem incidental to you may be hurtful to your child,” the AAP states. “Phrases like ‘You stupid idiot,’ ‘That’s a dumb question,’ or ‘Don’t bother me’ make your child feel worthless and unwanted and may seriously damage his self-esteem.” If you constantly criticize or put your child down, he may hesitate to ask you questions or listen to what you have to say.

Don’t lecture but become role model

Kids learn by seeing you as role model. “lecturing is not a good way to get your child to listen,” Saltz says. Instead, shoot for “engaging talk and talk that asks what they think and fosters their own thinking process and autonomy,” she says. For example, “Ask your children, ‘What do you think about hurting others, not doing homework, watching games, or the way the teacher handled a particular situation?,’ and that way you can begin a discussion where there will be give-and-take and they will also be more likely to listen to your thoughts,” Saltz says.

Ask teens questions and let them draw their own conclusions — such as, ‘What are the bad things about backbiting?’ — as opposed to saying, ‘These are the bad things about backbiting,'”. This all goes back to a teen’s desire for independence.

Be around — a lot

There are appropriate time windows when your child is more ready to talk in a friendly manner. You need to figure out what are those good time windows when you can have a friendly conversation with your kids.

“Everybody wants there to be a good setting and time to have an important talk with their children, but kids operate on their own timetable, so the most important thing is making the time to be around,” Saltz tells. “You want opportunities that don’t feel too high-pressured, like ‘now we are going to have a talk.'”

Give your child space

When your child begins answering you with non-decent answers, take a step back, Saltz says. “Ask them what they are feeling, which will hopefully help them reflect on why they are giving such inappropriate answers,” she says. Then say, “I’d like to talk about it, but if you feel you cannot at this moment, we can regroup in a couple of hours or tomorrow.”

Inspire your child

So often parents say ‘don’t watch these games, don’t go to this website, and don’t wake late night,’ and those are three depressing conversations, “What inspiration would any kids take from those conversations?” asks Boteach, author of several books, including the forthcoming Sholom in the Home. “Instead, try to have inspiring conversations that give children a sense of what is important,” says this father of eight. “When your kids come home, ask them what happened in school and have a story for them.”

Don’t yell

“Be stern, but if you yell at kids that shows you are out-of-control and you create a non-peaceful environment,” Boteach says. “There has to be a calm environment at home.” Remember, that children thrive in stability. “Talk to your kids, give them strict rules, explain them, and punish children when necessary, but don’t lose control and yell,” he advises.

Emphasize the positive

Make the positives equal the negatives, Kopta says. “People rarely change because of negative consequences, otherwise no one would smoke or overeat,”. “It’s not enough to tell a child not to watch games, hurt others, or eat lot of chocolates unless you present alternative things to give them good feelings — like sports, art, and visiting relatives and friends.

Here are some more tips for you to practice to make a positive impact on your child:

– Encourage your child and give him gifts when he performs a good deed or task

– Inform the child very gently without yelling when your child makes a mistake

– Don’t start conversation on issues with your kids in front of others. Instead find quiet and lone time windows

– Be nice, soft and friendly when answering to even low level questions of your child

– Provide time for extracurricular activities like sports and nice entertainments

– When punishing, don’t forget to tell the reasons to your child

– Don’t call your child with words like ‘foolish’, ‘donkey’, ‘stupid’ or ‘bad kid’


Madrasatul Qaaim, Karachi, Pakistan,

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