Are there people in your life with whom you feel comfortable sharing absolutely anything?
Whether you’re feeling excited, anxious, or sad, you know they’ll listen fully…without judging you or offering unsolicited advice.
I have several friends like this whom I had a chance to be with this summer. And that made me think…do others think of me as someone they can easily talk to?
So, I thought I’d invite you to consider the same:
Do the people you care about most – including the little ones in your life – feel heard and recognized when they share their feelings with you?
It’s not always easy to give others our full attention. Especially if you have a lot on your plate or feel stressed and short on time. So how can you nurture a loving relationship with your little one by making them feel supported and heard even when you’re busy?
Use these tips to practice more mindful communication:
- Feel the difference between listening and hearing
When your little one is talking, are you fully listening or just hearing? Mindful listening means suspending what you want to say next. Instead, you turn your focus on them – with a genuine sense of curiosity and interest.
- Check in on your own state before a conversation
If you’re feeling stressed, anxious, or fearful, you might unconsciously project these feelings onto your little one. Pause before a conversation. Notice any needs or expectations that might prevent you from fully listening. Tend to these needs with compassion or set them aside until after this conversation.
- Be mindful of nonverbal language
Are you on your phone while they’re talking? Are you looking around the room or sitting with your arms crossed? These nonverbal signals can make your child feel like you’re not fully listening to them. Be aware of your posture and maintain full eye contact. Watch their body language as well – it will often tell you more than their words.
- Resist the urge to give unsolicited advice
As a parent, it can be hard to just listen without immediately offering advice or suggestions. But oftentimes your little one isn’t seeking advice as much as simply wanting to express themselves. First, let them know you hear them. And only then ask if they want your guidance too.
- Pass around a talking stick – or a teddy bear
If you feel like a deeper conversation needs to be had in the family, use a talking stick (or another prop like a toy or a spoon). Give the talking stick to the person who wants to express themselves first. Listen to them fully while they’re talking. Have them pass the stick to the next person once they feel complete with their sharing.
- Express gratitude for their openness
And last but not least, always thank your child (or anyone in your life) for sharing their feelings. Let them know you appreciate their trust and honesty. This helps them feel safe sharing with you in the future.
With a little bit of mindfulness and compassion practice, being a great listener will become more natural to you – and you’ll love how your relationships will feel stronger every day.