Attention and listening skills are essential for school success. Children who can listen attentively and respond effectively to their teacher's directions tend to have an easier time in school. Listening skills lay the foundations for the development of further language skills. There are four language skills: reading, writing, speaking, and listening with listening being the most fundamental of these skills (Oxford, 1993, p. 205). Some children can find it really challenging to listen for a number of reasons but the good news is that there is so much you can do to make it easier for them.
If your child seems to be finding listening tricky, don't worry - you're not alone! Many parents struggle with getting their children to listen and follow instructions.
Check out these five tips for helping your child to listen. By following these simple steps, you'll be able to get through to your little one and have better communication in no time.
Establish rules and expectations for listening
One of the best ways to help your child to listen, is to establish rules and expectations. When they know what is expected of them, they are more likely to understand and follow your instruction. Some children aren't aware of what they need to do to be a good listener. Sometimes telling a child to 'listen' is not clear enough, so by breaking down the rules of listening, your child will understand the steps they need to take. Try using the following statements when redirecting your child's attention:
Looking at the speaker/eyes looking
Keep still/sit still
Mouth quiet/stay quiet
Praise your child when they exhibit good listening skills
Once your child knows how to be a good listener, it's really important to praise them for doing so. This will encourage them to continue listening and make them feel good about themselves. Instead of using general praise such as 'that's really good listening', praise them for what they explicitly did. For example 'you stayed really quiet when Mummy was talking, well done!' Positive reinforcement is always better than punishment so make sure to explicitly praise your child as much as possible.
Model good listening skills yourself
If you want your child to be a good listener, you need to be a good role model. Children learn by observing the adults around them so make sure you're using some of those listening rules as well. Showing that you are interested in what another person is saying and maintaining eye contact are two ways to show your child that you are a good listener.
Monitor your own language levels
When interacting with your child, use clear and concise language as this will keep their attention by allowing them to process smaller units of language. You can also try sitting down with your child or getting down to their level when giving them instructions, as this will help them to look at you and focus better.
Help your child to focus
As well as supporting your child to understand how to be a good listener, there are also environmental changes you can make to develop these skills further. One way to help your child focus is by providing a calm and distraction-free environment. This might mean turning off the TV or putting away any toys that might be distracting. You can also try sitting down with your child when giving them instructions and maintaining eye contact.
By following these simple steps, you can help your child to listen and follow instructions more effectively. Remember to praise them when they do well and be a good role model yourself! Listening is an essential skill for school so it's important to start developing these skills early on.
We hope these tips will help your child to on their attention and listening skills. If you think your child could benefit from speech and language therapy, why not take a look at our therapist directory. Or if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us