Listening to Your Child
Children like it when you pay attention to them—just like adults do. When your child is telling you something that happened, do your best to give him your full attention and actively listen.
Active listening is different than passively listening.
Children are very astute at recognizing when you are truly listening and when you are just hearing them talk. Make eye contact with your child, ask questions that demonstrate your interest, and make sure your body language conveys that your are listening as well.
Try to respond constructively and avoid being dismissive and making vague, general responses like “that’s nice dear.” If you don’t actively listen, your child will get the message that whatever he is saying is not important enough to receive your full attention. If you catch yourself not listening—if you realize that you’ve been listening but haven’t really heard what your child has to say—ask your child to repeat himself and apologize for being distracted.
As you look for ideas on praising your child, take a moment to practice your own listening skills. (We all want to teach our children good manners and etiquette, such as being active listeners, but sometimes forget that our own behavior is their greatest teacher.)
Take the Fear Out of Parent Conferences
Parents can, often sub-consciously, put a lot of pressure on their children, and when parent conferences roll around it can be a scary time. When you come back from a parent conference, avoid the temptation to tell your children what they’re doing wrong and instead focus on the positives.
Telling your children about their weaknesses isn’t necessarily constructive. Instead, consider a discussion with their teachers about how you could help your child improve upon those weaknesses. Create a plan and act on it. Make sure, however, that you don’t make these discussions imply that your child both has a weakness, and lacks the maturity to be involved in the discussions.
If you wish to support your child in any problem areas, address these problems as something you and your child plan to tackle together. In this way your child, instead of feeling the odd one out, will feel you have his back and are a team with him as he addresses his weaknesses.
Being Open Towards Your Child
This is a simple tip, but one to live by. Always be nurturing and loving, but also speak to your child about his education. Let him know that if he has any problems at school he can talk to you. It seems obvious, but to a child, it might not be, so just knowing that you’re there can often make scary things a little less scary. As noted earlier, make sure your child realizes that you are in his court and are a part of his team when facing difficulties. The world is much less scary to a child who feels he is not alone.