How to Develop Listening Skills in a 6-Year-Old

By Flora Richards-Gustafson
Smiling young six year old
Smiling young six year old

At 6 years old, a child needs to listen to develop his literary skills, follow instructions accurately and keep up with the demands of school. A skill that requires practice, listening also shows respect and helps the child get along with others. As you help your 6-year-old develop his listening skills, practice consistency and follow through.

Listening Development at Age 6

When a child is 6 years old, she has a longer attention span and an increasingly vocabulary. As a child learns new words, she’ll naturally want to practice them by talking, which may interfere with her listening skills. At the same time, as the child’s language skills improve, so do her cognitive skills. For example, she can tell you the meaning of words, is better able to express her feelings and understands simple instructions that have two or three steps. If you don’t notice an improvement in your child’s listening skills after working with her for six weeks, consult with your child’s pediatrician, who can screen your child for a possible hearing problem, auditory processing disorder, language difficulty or attention deficit disorder in the article.

Be a Listener Role Model

To help your child develop his listening skills, you must consistently model good listening skills. When your 6-year-old talks to you, make eye contact and give him your full attention. Instead of shouting to him from another part of your home, talk to him when you are both in the same room. To let your child know that you want his attention, get down to his level and make eye contact. Say your child’s name and tell him that you need his attention by saying something like, “Johnny, I need your ears.” A 6-year-old understands questions that require answers more complex than “yes” or “no” and has an understanding of indirect requests. Even so, use simple words that he understands when you talk to him. According to the PBS article "Language," 6-year-olds still don’t fully understand the words “should” and “must,” particularly when you use them in a contraction.

Play Listening Games

Help your kid develop her listening skills, have fun and bond with you by playing games. Try a more advanced version of Simon Says by giving your child instructions with two elements instead of one, such as, “Hop on one foot and shake your arms in the air.” Play a game where your child thinks of a person, place or animal and you ask questions with “yes” or “no” answers until you guess the correct answer. Give you child a sound-matching game that involves matching different animals to the sounds they make. While your child has fun playing the games, she has to use her listening skills to understand the directions, participate and win.

Encourage Active Listening

Help your child become a better listener and develop basic active listening. As you speak to your child, reduce or eliminate distractions. When you give your 6-year-old directions, ask him to repeat them back to you to exercise his memorization skills and ensure he understands you. Correct your child if he makes a mistake and ask him to repeat your request again. If your child can’t repeat the instructions you gave him, they may have been too difficult or complex for him to understand. Simplify the instructions and try again. When you read a book to your child, take a break periodically and ask him to summarize the story. As your child talks to you about different topics, mirror what he told you by using his words when you respond so he knows that you heard him.

About the Author

Flora Richards-Gustafson has been writing professionally since 2003. She creates copy for websites, marketing materials and printed publications. Richards-Gustafson specializes in SEO and writing about small-business strategies, health and beauty, interior design, emergency preparedness and education. Richards-Gustafson received a Bachelor of Arts from George Fox University in 2003 and was recognized by Cambridge's "Who's Who" in 2009 as a leading woman entrepreneur.