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.

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