What does it mean to participate in both active listening and paraphrasing? Essentially, it means finding a more effective way to communicate with your child. The end result is that your child will feel more empowered to speak their mind on things that are important to them. This has far-reaching benefits, as it affects far more than just the way the child feels at that particular moment. In fact, it can have a dramatic impact on the way that a child develops and who they become as an adult. Whether or not you participate in active listening and paraphrasing can be the determining factor in your child’s level of self-confidence as they grow older. This in turn can have an equally dramatic impact on how they choose to live their life as an adult.
Active listening means that you are actually paying attention to what your child is saying, not merely allowing them to speak while paying more attention to doing something else than you are to them. This means that you make eye contact with them, you acknowledge what they are saying by nodding your head or leaning forward, and you are truly listening to and processing what they are saying as opposed to letting it go through one ear and out the other. Children are quite intelligent and they know when they are being paid attention to and when they are being ignored. If you never look up from whatever you are doing when your child is trying to talk to you, they will eventually decide to stop talking to you all together.
The same is true for paraphrasing. It is important to your child that you repeat what they have said, only using different words. This shows that you have a clear understanding of what they are trying to tell you and it also demonstrates to them that you are indeed listening. This not only makes the child feel more important, but it also gives them the opportunity to feel like a valuable member of the family who has opinions and concerns that should be listened to as opposed to merely being brushed aside. If you want to give your child the best foundation for adulthood, listening to them actively and paraphrasing what they have said are two of the most vital things that you can do as a parent.