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, was one of those students who entered college searching for her calling. In 1990, she discovered that her passion was in helping others. As the saying goes, “The rest is history.” In 1992, Udie graduated with her bachelor’s degree in communication disorders and science. In 1997, she received her Master’s degree in communication disorders and science from San Jose State University. She has more than 20 years of experience working with children with various disabilities. Udie is very passionate about neuro-developmental disabilities and social-cognitive disabilities. In 2000, she developed a social skills program that pairs typical developing students with students diagnosed with social cognitive disabilities (Autism, Pragmatic Language, ADD etc). She went on to develop a secondary program “All for 3’s.” Her other specialty is Pediatric Feeding Disorder, emphasis in premature babies and kids. Udie has worked as a consultant for several schools, conducted numerous workshops for schools, written and published articles. Visit Innovative Therapy Services to Learn About Our Programs