Active Listening Tips and Tricks for Parents and Caregivers

by Stefanie Estes

Recently, I had the opportunity to take an intensive active listening course on I was interested in incorporating the skill into my everyday professional interactions. Active listening is essentially giving a speaker your full and undistracted attention, and, upon reflection, I found that the tools I learned during the course would also be quite useful in parenting my school-aged children. Therefore, I present the dos and don’ts of effective active listeners in the following list:

  • Do pay attention to body language and tone
    Note your child’s feelings and non-verbal cues in your feedback – If you notice that your child’s tone is off or that their shoulders are slumped, say something like, “You don’t sound/look so happy about that.”
  • Don’t offer your internal judge’s response
     That voice that scares you away from doing/saying things is your internal judge. Putting your own fears, your own judge, at the forefront of a conversation is not constructive.
  • Do try to keep an open mind
    If you ask probing, non-judgmental questions, your child will be more likely to realize possible stumbling blocks in their plans on their own through talking it out with you.
  • Don’t attempt to mind-read or multi-task
    Interrupting with what you think your child will say next interrupts their thought process, and by ignoring your buzzing phone when your child speaks, you are indicating to them that their words are important.
  • Do ask clarifying questions
    Active listening does not mean that you passively wait to interrupt as your child tells you a long story about their day. It is important to interrupt with clarifying questions to gain insight as you remain focused on what your child is trying to say.
  • Remember: “My presence is a present and I am an ally.”
    Active listening is an investment in your relationship with your child.

Source: Powers, Lauren. “Active Listening: You Can Be a Great Listener.” Udemy. Accessed October 25, 2022.

November Medical Minute

November Medical Minute with ROR-KC Medical Director
Sallie Page-Goertz, MN, APRN, CPNP, IBCLC

The year is streaking to a close. We’re heading into Thanksgiving season, and holiday marketing frenzies!  Those of you who support ROR-KC with gifts of time and treasure are why we are so thankful this year. We’re making our budget and we’re anticipating the ability to add several more clinics to our coalition thanks to your generous gifts. 

This is also the time of year when providers begin to feel stressed with the numbers of ill children. The New York Times headline: the Tridemic – Covid, Influenza and RSV (respiratory syncytial virus)! RSV infections started months earlier than usual, and children are being affected in numbers, overwhelming hospital systems in many communities including ours.

So, when we get to clinic for well child visits, it can be a big sigh of relief. The joy of watching little ones get their book, laugh at the stories, look at me or their parents as they are sharing their new book, is as they say, priceless! Nine-month-old Leah just started laughing while exploring her new animal book – her mom was pointing out the animals, naming them and asking Leah to point at them too! Definitely, raising a little girl who will be ready for kindergarten. Leah will learn so many new words from books that one doesn’t hear in day -to-day conversation. A recent article* mentioned that vocabulary size predicts later academic performance, behavioral regulation, and…even criminal convictions! So not only does one get the love from all of those snuggles, important brain building is happening that supports a child’s bright future!   For all the children attending our KC Metro pediatric clinic, you the donor are the key to helping that happen every day! As we approach this Thanksgiving season, know that ROR-KC is so grateful for each of you.

And putting my Nurse Practitioner hat on, a gentle reminder, or maybe not so gentle…. Are you immunized? Have you gotten all of the boosters you are eligible for yet? Vaccines continue to be important to reduce risk of serious infection, hospitalization and death for both Covid and Influenza. (Unfortunately, no effective RSV vaccine exists yet.)  Have you gotten you children their flu and Covid vaccines? Both are important to protect individuals as well as the community. Make sure you and your family get their Influenza immunization, and updated Covid boosters.

*Flack ZM, Field AP, Horst JS. 2018.The effects of storybook reading on word learning: A meta-analysis. Dev.Psych.54:1334-1346.