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10 Reasons Parents Must Become Effective Listeners

December 4, 2007

Several years ago, when I was Webmaster for the International Listening Association, a fellow board member proposed several “Top 10” lists about listening. In the coming weeks, I’ll share many of these with you. Today’s list comes from Daryl Vander Kooi, Ed.D., Professor Emeritus at Dordt College. He shares with us ten reasons parents must become effective listeners.

  1. TO CHECK BABY’S SENSES. Parents should watch the newborn for indicators of good sensing. Does the baby jump because of sudden loud noises? Does the baby attempt to turn its head toward mother’s voice? Does the baby begin to coo? Detecting potential problems early can help parents adjust and teach differently.
  2. TO GUIDE IN LEARNING LANGUAGE. Parents need to listen for the baby’s stages in speech development: cooing, babbling, sound imitation, connecting a number of sounds. Knowing the stage of development will assist parents in promoting speech development.
  3. TO CHECK BEHAVIOR. Parents need to see/hear/detect potential problems demonstrated in behaviors such as attention deficit disorder. In order to assist others, such as teachers and consultants in assessing student work and student habits, parents need to know what their child’s behavior is.
  4. TO BE AN EXAMPLE. Parents need to be an example of good listening skills and habits, if they wish to guide their children.
  5. TO ADDRESS A PROBLEM. Parents need to listen if they wish to detect a behavior problem and to address that problem. They should utilize all possible communicators: teachers, pastors, Sunday School teachers, school administrators, and even neighbors to understand the child’s behavior problem. They also need to listen to the child. Then solutions can begin to form.
  6. TO WATCH FOR DESTRUCTIVE ACTIONS. Good listening should get the parent in tune to potential destructive actions or beliefs. Listen for depression, for anger, for threatening speech toward others, for deliberate nastiness. Remember listening goes beyond hearing: watch actions, check bedrooms, etc.
  7. TO KNOW HOW TO RESPOND. Beyond the gifts and freedoms, privacy and independence, teens often signal what they believe they need from parents including rules and discipline, but the trick is to catch the signals. That calls for careful listening and reflecting.
  8. TO SWITCH FROM PARENT TO GUIDE. Parents need to switch from the parent (one who serves as a role model who also sets the rules and guidelines) to the guide (the one who serves as role model and mentor behind the scenes.) Parents need to listen when teens are struggling with major decisions: note the struggle, check for hints for assistance, supply options for decision- making, demonstrate advantages and disadvantages.
  9. TO MOVE TO ADULT RELATIONSHIPS. Eventually, parents shift from the overt parental role or mentor role to the role of adults in friendship. Parents need to listen for that shift. Parents need to acknowledge that shift in relationships and listen accordingly.
  10. TO ALWAYS BE A PARENT. Parents never stop being parents, but they can learn to shift their listening to fit those shifts in a child’s behavior and increasing maturity, while still maintaining that early listening in love: a listening for problems, for calls for help, for friendship, for adult discussion. While a parent for all time and a good listener at all times; parents remain parents.

— Daryl Vander Kooi, Ed.D., Professor Emeritus, Dordt College

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2 comments

  1. […] Matters posts, you’ve read about 10 Ways Educators Can Listen Better to Their Students and 10 Reasons Parents Must Become Effective Listeners. Today, I have for you something that’s a bit more tongue-in-cheek. Daryl Vander Kooi, Ed.D., […]


  2. […] 10 Reasons Parents Must Become Effective Listeners […]



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