Talking to Young Children: Show you are listening
September 19th, 2011
by Katrina Brooke
Door openers are invitations to say more, to share ideas and feelings. They tell children that your really listening and that your interested. Door openers also tell children that their ideas are important and that hey are accepted and respected for what they are saying.
I see… Oh… Mm hmm… How about that … Really? … Tell me more… Say that again. I want to be sure I understood you…. No kidding… That’s interesting…. —Winning Ways to Talk with Young Children
Another technique is to Paraphrase what a child said. When a child talks to you, repeat back the child’s underlying message in totally different words. Do not mimic or parrot what the child says exactly, it is useless. A paraphrase, on the other hand, says the child’s statement another way, like this:
Child: “These are the only shoes I could wear today.” Adult: “no choice, huh?
Child: “He pushed me!” Adult: “You got shoved aside?”
This reflects back to the child what the adult thinks the child is saying. Often a paraphrase ends with a raised inflection in the voice that says “Did I catch what you meant?” The child can correct any misinterpretations. Try to illuminate the source of the problem the child is expressing not restating the immature emotional surface:
Child: “Get out of here! Adult: “You want him to stay away from you now?”
—Tom Drummond North Seattle Community College 1992