Dr. Taniesha Burke Parenting Expert.

Developing Good Listening Skills in Young Children

LISTENING REFERS to children’s ability to pay attention to and separate both environmental and speech sounds from one another. When children have good listening skills, they are better able to select, remember, and process information, which has a significant impact on their academic success.


Listening is one of the most important skills children will need to master to reach their full potential as children and adults.

Excellent listening skills are essential for children’s development as they lay the foundation for other critical skills such as:


  • Sound recognition
  • Building spoken language
  • Following instructions
  • Developing social relationships
  • Building and improving communications skills


Many of our children lack the opportunity to develop this crucial skill, as they are surrounded by the constant glare of television, computers, play-stations, and other video games.


Video and computer games might sit well as a good babysitter for many parents, but when these games are overly used, they can may have harmful effects on children’s attention span, patience level, and their listening abilities.


A Lot Of Work

Parenting is a lot of work, and it can be time-consuming, but, when done correctly, can reap many rewards. It is, therefore, important for parents to find the time to nurture and develop their children’s listening skills.


There are several activities parents can use when interacting with their children to ensure that their children develop good listening skills. These activities include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Regularly reading to your child – when parents read to their children, it encourages them to get into a routine sitting still and listening to a story. In reading to children, parents are encouraged to frequently ask questions and ask their children to give a summary of what they understood about the story. This practice motivates children to listen attentively and also develops their attention span, and knowledge.
  • Play audio stories in the car or at home – audiobooks can be fun and engaging when parents discuss with children the story plots, characters, and what they enjoy about the story. Audiobook discussions are a great way to test whether children are attentively following the storyline.
  • If you say something to your children, ask for it to be repeated – encourage your children to repeat the message you communicated in their own words. This activity ensures that your children are listening attentively and understands the message.
  • Maintain eye contact when communicating. When speaking with children, parents should aim to look them directly in the eye. It teaches them to remain focused and to listen to what is being communicated. Undivided attention also demonstrates respect for our children’s perspectives and thoughts.
  • Repeat nursery rhymes. For toddlers/preschoolers, parents can play a game of saying rhymes and deliberately leave out a word to test whether their children are attentively listening. Parents can make the game fun to encourage their little ones to listen carefully for any missing words.
  • Listen to your child, attentively. It is important that parents actively practice good listening skills when their children are speaking. Showing boredom, being impatient, or interrupting the child before he or she finished speaking are behaviors children may embrace when they interact with others.


A child who has good listening skills has a higher chance at success academically, in relationships, and eventually in career. These skills are necessary for a child to thrive; therefore, parents are encouraged to make every effort to develop these skills daily.


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