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Why learning to listen to your children helps them listen to you

How learning to really listen to what your child is saying and dropping your own agenda can deepen your connection with your child.

On Friday evening, my 6 year old son was watching me make him snacks when suddenly he started crying.

Anxiously, I asked him, "What's wrong?"

"Today is the worst day. No-one in my class wanted to let me help clean up. Even when I asked them. I don't even have any friends in my class."

When I heard this, my first reaction was to make him feel better. I saw how sad he was, and wanted to tell him not to worry, because he is still new in the class and he'll make friends.

But instead, I decided to listen.

You see, I recently interviewed Anna Seewald, the author of 15 Keys to Effective Communication: Building Strong Parent Child Relationships, and founder of Authentic Parenting.

In this interview, Anna shared how to build deeper connection with your child by becoming better at listening to them.

Anna also shared specific strategies to become better at listening, and the one that I remembered when talking to my son was "relinquish control or any agenda and purely practice listening".

So, that's what I did. I stopped trying to "solve" his problem, and just listened to him sharing his story.

Anna's advice kept playing in my head:

Listen to our children with curiosity, with presence, with openness, with no agenda, with no, "Oh, I know why or what's going to happen," with no intention to interject or interfere or assert our own words

Anna Seewald

After speaking for a long time, telling me about his day at school and the things he was struggling with, my son calmed down and gave me a hug.

He was happy again. All without me doing anything, besides just listening and letting go of my need to "fix things".

And I also had the precious opportunity to learn more about his life and his struggles. I feel like I now understand him better, and that we are more deeply connected because he shared this with me.

According to Anna, the better we as parents can become at listening to our children, to more our children will also cooperate.

This is because if we start to value their reality, then we can more easily see what they're engaged in, and connect with them before asking for something.

In the full interview with Anna, she also shares how to show your child that you are listening to them, to make it clear that you are focusing your attention on them.

The more you can do this, the more they will pay attention to you when you ask them to do something.

You can find the full interview with Anna Seewald - Why listening to your children helps them listen to you - here.