Teaching Your Children Active Listening Skills

Teaching your children active listening skills is very important for their development. Today, we'll share some tips to help you.
Teaching Your Children Active Listening Skills
María Matilde

Written and verified by the pedagogue and trainer María Matilde.

Last update: 27 December, 2022

Teaching your children active listening skills from a young age is important for their proper development. Children need to learn how to speak and express themselves correctly, but they also need to learn how to listen. This will help them succeed in all areas of their lives as they grow older.

Learning to listen is more complex than simply listening to others. When teaching your children active listening, you’re working on values like respect. In addition, you’ll be teaching them other skills like empathy, understanding, and the ability to concentrate and pay attention, which are all necessary skills for listening.

What is active listening?

Active listening is a term from the field of human communication. According to many studies, it refers to an essential communication skill that helps to improve interpersonal relationships.

A mom doing some empathic listening.

When a person is able to actively listen to another person, they’re psychologically prepared and available to hear the other person’s message. In other words, they’re prepared to be respectful of what they hear. In addition, they’re ready to respond with a message that’s relevant to the topic of discussion. 

Also, as we previously mentioned, people need to develop empathy in order to utilize and improve their active listening skills. You need empathy in order to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and to understand what they’re saying and feeling. Additionally, when teaching your children active listening, they’ll need to have the cognitive ability to be able to interpret the speaker’s message.

It’s also important to demonstrate understanding through certain non-verbal behaviors. For example, having a receptive body posture, maintaining eye contact, as well as using facial expressions and gestures that show you’re paying attention. In addition, you want to make sure that your tone of voice is soft and slow. 

Active listening skills in children

By their nature, children tend to get distracted when someone is talking to them. They’re not always capable of maintaining a conversation because they can’t focus. Instead, they’ll try to play, move, or do anything else that catches their attention.

Therefore, when it comes to teaching children active listening, you have to understand that it’s a skill. And, like any skill, your child will need to practice it regularly before they learn it. 

As a parent, it’s important to learn some techniques and strategies that will help when it comes to teaching your children active listening skills.

Teaching your children active listening skills

A father listening to his son.

Through games

When teaching your children active listening, you can use any playful and fun activity that has certain rules. They’ll need to follow the rules, wait their turn, and show respect for whoever’s turn it is. All of those aspects of games will help develop their active listening skills.

So, organizing games and asking your children to play with you is an excellent way to improve their listening abilities.

One example is “telephone” or “complete the sentence.” These games both require your child to pay attention to what the person before them said. 

Teach them to avoid certain behaviors

When teaching your children active listening, you first have to teach them to avoid certain behaviors, like interrupting. It’s always a good idea to emphasize that they need to respectfully listen to other people when they’re speaking, without interrupting. Then, once the other person finishes their thought, they can answer or comment on what they said. 

In addition, you should also teach your children to avoid putting their hands in their pockets or crossing their arms when talking to someones. You can explain that these behaviors can make the speaker think you’re disinterested in what they’re saying. 

Active listening skills require your whole body

Another key to teaching your children active listening skills is showing them how to manage their own bodies. For example, teaching them to smile or to look the speaker in the eye. Also, you can work on aspects of good posture, like keeping their back straight and their head up. 

It’s essential to teach children the importance of the physical aspects of conversation. Learning how to control their bodies during conversation is part of active listening. 


The key to teaching your children active listening skills is to ensure they feel that others are actively listening to them. They want others to listen and understand with empathy. Therefore, if you want your child to learn, the best thing you can do is be a good example.

So, when your child is speaking, you should use the same active listening skills you want them to use. That means putting your phone and computer away and putting aside your stress and obligations. Then, you should look your child in the eye and actively listen to them. 

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.