Ways Parents Can Help With Early Listening Skills

Modeling active listening skills teaches your child how to behave.

Active listening skills help your child in all areas of his life, but getting him to really hear what you're saying is the tough part. A child who seems as though he's ignoring you might just need to build his listening skills. Practicing with various methods can reinforce your tot's growing listening skills.

Model Listening Skills

Kids learn how to behave based on what they see, especially from parents. It's easy to pretend you're listening when your little one talks nonstop, but if you don't use active listening skills you miss out on a learning opportunity for your child. Listening to your child shows him you value his feelings and are open to communication, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. To model active listening, stop what you're doing and look at your child as he talks. Hold back the urge to interrupt or jump in with your opinion while your child is still trying to express himself.

Play Listening Games

Games give your child the opportunity to practice listening skills in an entertaining way. The classic game Simon emphasizes the importance of listening closely to what is said. Play a few rounds with your child to help him focus on listening. A scavenger hunt with verbal clues is another way to get your child to listen. Write a series of clues to lead your little one to a treasure. You can also make up your own games that involve listening to directions or paying attention to sounds. With his eyes closed, ask your child to tell you what he hears.


Real-life listening practice helps your child develop his skills. Reading is a simple way for your little one to listen while he expands literacy skills. As you read, ask your child questions about the story. Say, "What did Goldilocks do when the bear family returned home?" Asking for predictions is another way to encourage listening. He needs to listen to what happened earlier in the story to guess what will happen next. You might say, "What do you think the Little Engine will do?" Retelling or acting out the story is another way to check your child's listening.


Praise reinforces the listening skills your little one displays. Instead of focusing on poor listening skills, watch for positive displays of listening. Let him know right away when he's using active listening skills. Say, "I like the way you stopped playing with your cars and looked at me when I talked to you." Pointing out these skills in others is another way to reinforce the listening skills you want your child to display. You might say, "Look at the way that little boy listened to the directions his mom gave him and followed each one." This reminds your child how to listen well and encourages those skills in your little one.