Good Listening Behaviors for Children

With practice, children can learn how to become effective listeners.

Because listening is important for communicating and learning, children often perform better academically when they have effective listening skills. In fact, children can spend up to 75 percent of classroom time listening, according to professor Mary Renck Jalongo with Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Help your child develop positive listening behaviors so those behaviors can become habits.

Zero Distractions

Encourage your child to stop doing other activities when she needs to listen. Effective listening requires effort to concentrate and think about what the speaker is saying, advises the University of Missouri. Trying to listen while distracted by other sounds or activities makes it difficult to think about the message, understand it and remember it. While someone is striving to improve listening skills, the brain might try to wander away from the speaker. This is when the listener needs to consciously refocus on the speaker to maintain the listening state.

Eye Contact

Direct eye contact is an important way to demonstrate good listening behavior, according to McGraw-Hill Higher Education. Eye contact has two benefits. First, it helps the speaker know that the listener is staying actively involved with the message and is paying attention. Second, eye contact helps a listener maintain attention and avoid distractions. When the listener maintains eye contact, he will be less likely to let his mind wander. Teach your child that looking a speaker in the eyes shows the speaker that he’s listening.

Other Gestures

Speakers often like to have feedback and encouragement while speaking. Demonstrate for your child how a listener can encourage a speaker to keep talking and to feel like the listener is listening. Common utterances include “uh-huh,” “mm-hmm,” “yes,” “right” and “mmmm.” By delivering this continual encouragement, a listener shows the speaker she’s involved. Other gestures include nodding or shaking the head, leaning forward closer to the speaker and standing near the speaker to show continued interest and attention.

Ensure Understanding

A listener has to process the information heard and ensure he understands it to be a successful listener, according to the For Children With Special Needs website. Repeating the message back in different words -- paraphrasing -- shows the speaker that the listener was paying attention and wants to understand the message. Paraphrasing also ensures that the listener understands the message. Asking questions is another effective way to ensure understanding. Encourage your child to ask questions and paraphrase a message to ensure he understands it.