Source : Daniel Dick , ehow.com
Children today have many distractions to deal with. Television, video games and cell phones all require a kind of passive and constant attention. These things can reduce a child's attention span, while training them to only lightly focus on many things at once. According to Peter Jensen at the National Institute of Mental Health, "Extensive exposure to television and video games may promote development of brain systems that scan and shift attention at the expense of those that focus attention." Oftentimes, there are many different voices and sounds competing for a child's ear throughout the day. Fortunately, there are things you can do to help teach your child to actively listen and focus.
- Limit exposure to television and video games. While these things are not inherently bad, overexposure can lead to the development of poor listening skills, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Television does not require interaction and can lead to passive viewing, which can become habit-forming. Video games require greater attention and are interactive, but do not generally stimulate any reasoning beyond hitting the correct button at the correct time. Try to limit TV watching and video game playing to no more than two hours per day.
- Narrate household activities to your children. Talking to your children and explaining the world around them as you do things will cause them to focus on you and develop listening skills that relate to their environment. For instance, while you are doing laundry, explain to the child what you are doing and why you are doing it. Make sure you pay attention to any questions they may have, like, "Why do you put the soap in now?" or "Why do you separate different colors or types of clothes?" For very young children, simply speaking to them about everyday things helps to inform them about the world, as well as promote listening abilities.
- Model good listening for your children. They learn from you how to listen. Do not interrupt people or act dismissively. Listen patiently and thoughtfully. Don't be doing other things when your child is speaking. Make eye contact with your child. Your children are likely to pick up these habits from you, and if not you will be able to use your own listening skills as an example when trying to explain what they are doing wrong.
- Converse with your children. Talk to them about the things they care about and are interested in. Take this opportunity to build a dialogue. If you allow the child to talk but not listen when you speak, you are not really teaching listening skills.
- Read to your children. After completing a chapter, talk to your children about it. This tests their listening and will cause them to focus on subsequent chapters and come up with things to say. You may want to stop occasionally and ask your child what they think will happen next in a story. This will also cause them to focus and use their imagination and conversation skills.