Active listening is the key in having effective communication with anyone, especially children. Listening helps us understand what the speaker is saying, understand how the person is thinking, or feeling and helps us ask the right questions. Therefore, it is important that we teach children to use active listening as it is the key to getting along with others. When I work with my clients on the following skills: understanding directions, sharing ideas, problem solving, and conversations, I always start with three key steps of active listening.
- Listen with an open mind: I teach my clients how to listen so that they pickup details and intent of what is being communicate. I teach my clients that they have to understand what the person said and what the person wants. I teach them that listening means you have to be present. I teach my clients that listening takes time from you, it takes caring and it takes being patient.
• Reflective Listening: With my older clients, I teach them that they must reflect back what they have heard. My clients learn to understand that reflecting is when you understand that the statement requires that you are truly thinking about the person and what the person is saying to you. When you reflect back what the person is saying, you are inviting the person to say more, and you are willing to pay attention and you are willing to truly understand them. I teach my clients to show that you are reflecting, be sure to repeat back to the person what you heard. With my clients we practice using words or phrases such as, “Let be sure I understand…,” ” I am just making sure that I hear you, did you say…,” “I heard…, but I am not sure if you meant…,” etc. Reflecting on the intended message allows you to verify that you are hearing and accurately getting the message. You can use reflective listening to help reduce emotionally charged conversation. It also allows the speaker to calming clarify and feel validated by you.
Ask open-ended questions: The final part of our lesson is generally learning to ask open-ended questions versus closed ended questions. Open-ended question encourages the speaker give more explanation. They are conversation encourager, inviting the speaker to share details.
About the author:
Uduak (Udie) Osom holds a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in Speech and Language Pathology from San Jose State University. Udie has served students of all ability levels from preschool through grade 12, for over 20 years. She is very passionate about neuro-developmental disabilities and social-cognitive disabilities. She is the owner/director of Innovative Therapy Services, a pediatric speech, language and social skills clinic in Santa Clara, CA. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.