Listening is an art. We hear people talk all day long, but actively listening to what they are saying – and what they are not saying – well, that’s a different story.
So, how can you be a more effective listener with your children? Become aware of the 3 levels of listening, and try to make sure that you’re in Level 2 or 3 when you’re listening to your child. Level 1 is okay, too, but you don’t want to get stuck there!
- Listening at Level 1: When you are paying attention to what is happening for you while you’re listening to someone else. You might be thinking about how you are feeling, what they might be thinking of you, or you might be waiting to speak.
- Listening at Level 2: When you are paying complete attention to the other person, to what s/he is saying, what’s important to him, what’s motivating her, etc. In this level, you are curious about the other person’s experience.
- Listening at Level 3: When you are paying attention to what is going on around you. Is the environment calm or stressful? Is there distraction, or is this a good space to talk? What is not being said that is important?
When parents listen at Level 2, they are confident and clear, and their children experience that support. Give it some practice – like any muscle, it won’t take as long to develop as you might believe.