Strategies for Effective Listening


Thank you to Principal Kalyn Peterson and the Aliso Viejo Community for allowing me to share my knowledge and be part of the Distinguished Speaker Series. Here are some photos from the evening with Principal Kalyn Peterson and one of our parents from Aliso Viejo, Julie Devito. Below I am sharing with you the important skills used in effective listening. Enjoy!

IMG_6548 (1)

Use Active Listening

  • Active listening is very respectful of your child’s thoughts and feelings. But listening isn’t easy.

Active Listening and Self-Esteem

  • In active listening you are attempting to see the world through the other person’s eyes.
  • You must set aside your own opinions, stop any type of judgement, and instead commit yourself to fully understanding how your child saw a particular situation.
  • You don’t have to agree with your child’s perspective.

The Goal of Active Listening

  1. Understand what another person is saying and thinking from his or her point of view
  2. To communicate back and check your understanding with the person doing the talking.

How Do You Do Active Listening?

  • Set an intention and mindset: “I am going to hear this kid out no matter what. I will find out exactly what he thinks.”


  • These are brief comments or questions that elicit more information.
  • These comments are very difficult to make when your child catches you off guard.
  • An opener communicates that you are ready to listen.
  • Verbal Example: “Oh?”, “Wow?”, “What?”, “Tell me what happened.”
  • Non-Verbal Example: Sitting down next to your child and giving eye contact

Use Non-Judgmental Questions

  • Following an opener, questions are necessary to get clarification and understanding.


  • What  are some judgmental questions we ask?
  • “Why would you say those rude things about your teacher?”
  • What happens when we ask judgmental questions?
  • It creates silences or inspires an argument
  • What are non-judgmental questions we can ask?
  • “So what happened after you sang?” , “What was going through your mind?”

Reflecting Feelings and Validation

  • Reflecting feelings helps your child know that whatever he/she is feeling is okay
  • Reflecting statements also reinforces self-esteem
  • Reflecting statements also helps diffuse negative emotions so they aren’t acted out somewhere else

Perception Checks

  • A perception check is when you check out if you are really getting a good idea what your child is saying.
  • Examples include: “It sounds like…”, “You felt like this was the worse day ever?”, “You wish that your teacher didn’t embarrass you?”

It is important to have open communication with your child so they are able to talk to you about the harder things that they deal with. For example, they will be more inclined to share with you the things that happen at school such as bullying or pressures of academic. By you showing that you don’t get reactive by what they tell you they are more willing to be open. This will allow for both you and your child to be able to problem solve.

Active listening allows you to learn a lot about what your children think about. By being a better listener now you will build good communication and trust with your child.

Based in Southern California in beautiful Newport, CA, here at Social Growth Center, we can help provide parent training to help deepen parent-child bond and increase communication skills.

Learn more about parent training services here