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How to Talk to Your Child? The Key Is Listening

The key is listening


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Parenthood is a life-changing experience. Your world — once centered around you — suddenly changes to revolve around a new, tiny human. As they grow, you’ll celebrate important milestones, learn new lessons and foster one of life’s strongest bonds. One thing every parent should do is learn how to talk to their child. However, the key to talking to your child isn’t just speaking, it's actively listening.

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As a parent, you probably inquire about your child’s interests, hobbies and passions to jumpstart meaningful conversations. But are you actively listening to their responses? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), active listening can improve communication with your child and cultivate a stronger relationship. By actively listening, you are showing your child that you are interested in what they’re saying. Actively listening to your children will also encourage them to discuss their hopes and problems with you as they age. 

According to Dr. Casey Gamboni, a therapist and teaching and supervising faculty member at the Marriage and Family Therapy Program at The Family Institute at Northwestern University, actively listening to your child can also boost their confidence.

“If your child is bringing up a topic that you are very unfamiliar with, a way to show your interest is just by asking questions in a polite, non-defensive manner,” Gamboni said. “I think people like to play an expert role to an extent, and one thing that could increase the child’s confidence is by having the parent create a welcoming, safe space for them to educate.”

To practice active listening, the CDC recommends giving your full attention to your child by stopping what you’re doing and making eye contact. If talking to a younger child, kneel down so you’re at the same height. Once your child begins to share, repeat back what they’re saying to make sure you understand. Gamboni recommends asking questions, paraphrasing and reflecting back what they’re hearing. 


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