The Importance of Developing Listening and Attention Skills in Children

By Martha Holden
Keen listening and paying attention are helpful to children in acquiring literacy skills.
Keen listening and paying attention are helpful to children in acquiring literacy skills.

According to Dorinne S. Davis-Kalugin, President of Davis Center Inc., most people confuse listening and hearing skills and assume they are the same thing. Hearing refers to the physical action of receiving sounds through the ear while listening is a mental process involving the attachment of meaning to these sounds. Telltale signs of poor listening skills in children include failure to turn towards a mother’s voice, severe ear complications or difficulties participating in conversations. As a parent, it is your duty to help your child develop his listening skills to contribute to his overall well-being.

Developing Language Skills

Developing listening and attention skills in your child will aid his language learning process, which usually begins in the womb. Listening skills improve through interaction with parents and your child's peers. According to a 2012 study by Daniel Swingley and Elika Bergelson from the University of Pennsylvania, between 6 and 9 months, your infant may already know the meaning of some words. Your child's language development occurs by listening to how you communicate with him or others by paying attention to your vocal inflections and intonations.

Improve Child’s Literacy

Developing your child’s listening and attention skills is helpful in his acquisition of literacy skills. Kids need good listening skills to develop vocabulary, oral language and comprehension skills, which enable him to improve his literacy skills. For example, your child’s vocabulary improves as he listen to stories or converses with people such that he will have learned an estimated 13,000 words when he turns 6. Reading books to your child and asking him questions about the story will develop his listening comprehension skills.

Cope with Learning Disabilities

Developing listening and attention skills is integral in helping a child cope with learning disabilities. Strategies to improve his listening skills could involve eliminating any distractions during learning, reading to your child for 10 minutes daily or regular discussion of mutual interests. Reducing distractions might mean switching off the TV during learning while discussing mutual interests entails listening attentively as he talks about his thoughts. Another strategy to develop listening skills and help your kid cope with learning disabilities is to develop his inner language skills by asking him to repeat what you have told him.

Forging Relationships

Your child's good listening skills are an important component of forming meaningful and long-lasting friendship with his peers. Forging relationships usually occurs through interaction or mingling with other people, which requires efficient listening and attention skills. By listening attentively to their acquaintances, children can communicate their thoughts effectively to their friends and create an understanding that leads to a deepened relationship. This is helpful in later stages of life such as adolescence or adulthood, and in business or romantic relationships.

About the Author

Martha Holden began writing professionally in 2002. She has contributed articles on food, weddings, travel, human resources/management and parenting to numerous publications. Holden holds a Bachelor of Science in psychology from the University of Houston.