The Art of Listening to your Child

Written by Sridhar Ramanathan on Friday, 13 December 2013. Posted in Communication

This blog post has been contributed by ParentEdge. Learning is a continuous process, and needs to happen both in and outside of school; thus parents have an important role to play in shaping their children's future. ParentEdge ( aims to expose parents to global trends in learning and partner with them in the intellectual enrichment of their children.

For years I thought I was a good listener. I was wrong.

One incident proved this to me. In a listening workshop I was to listen to a colleague for five minutes and then repeat what she said. I was the boss and I had to go first, right in the beginning of the workshop.

I failed miserably. Professor Gopal Valecha (of IIMB) pointed out that I had a major problem in listening. I was processing what I heard and prepared myself with solutions, while the other person was speaking. I was keeping quiet, but I was not listening.
I then saw some of my other colleagues. They listened not just with their ears, but with their heart. For the first time I understood that keeping quiet while the other person is speaking is NOT listening.
Listening is about listening for meaning – words, context, feelings and meanings. Sometimes the silence between sentences.
This is so important while talking to your child. Can you listen to your child, without interrupting her? Without correcting her facts, grammar or pronunciation? Without jumping in with your suggestions, opinions or views?

Just try it. Your conversations will become richer, more meaningful and wholesome. By this single act you will earn the trust of your child. You will make her feel important by giving her undivided attention, when she speaks.
When she speaks try switching off the TV. Switch off the mobile. Close the book, keep the news paper away. Look her in the eye. When she speaks give her 100% of yourself. Remember she is changing and changing fast.
You can always catch up on everything else , but you cannot catch up on these fleeting moments when the child is eager to tell you something.
Imagine you are a blotting paper. A well tuned hi-fi radio receiver. That is all you have to do. Listen. Receive.

It is not easy. You have to quieten your mind. Stop all that internal chatter, the noise which interferes. When you do that, just one or two minutes may make a huge difference.
We can never again see the world with the innocence of a child. We can never make connections that a child can. We can never be 'unafraid' of making mistakes. We can never be not anxious about looking like a fool.

But your child can. She can do something you can't. So she is worth listening to.
The art of listening to your child has got nothing to do with your child. It has everything to do with you.

The only way to practise this is to listen to your child. As you go along you will understand how to be curious, express wonderment and ask a few 'child' questions.
Then every conversation will be a reward in itself.

When is your next conversation with your child?

About the Author

Sridhar Ramanathan

Sridhar Ramanathan is the Founder of IDEASRS, where he is also a Strategic Innovation Coach. His work involves conducting creative problem solving workshops for clients, and building competencies in creativity and innovation. He also blogs at

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