Does Your Child Need to Listen Better?

April 08, 2016

“He doesn’t follow directions well.”

“She can’t hear me when I’m telling her it’s time to go.”

“They don’t listen to me!”


As a pediatric therapy clinic, we evaluate and hear the concerns of parents and caregivers every day.  The above statements often are stated in our evaluations, which give us concern initially because we want to make sure the child can actually hear.  Most of the time, after the hearing is screened, it’s a matter of the child’s ability to listen.

You might be thinking, “Well isn’t that the same thing?” Nope…not at all.  You hear the radio on in the background as you drive your child to school, but you hear them say, “I wanna go to Chick fil A for lunch.” Your spouse may hear you talking on and on about your day, but not be listening to really hear you had a tough day and are a little grumpier this evening.

In our fast paced, me centered, screen savvy world, we have lost our ability to really listen to one another! Not to mention all the sounds that are around us.  What we are finding in our clinic and at Sprout Academy, is that children need to be good listeners.  There are a variety of reasons why: academic success, relational success and an enjoyment of life!

So what can we do to promote better listening in our homes:

  1.  Take time to really model being a good listener to your child.  Put down the phone, ipad, or pause the TV and look at your child when they need to talk to you.
  2. Eat supper around the table together where you can all look at one another and practice active listening.  Really listen to what is being said, without thinking of your response to the statement or problem.
  3. Use good turn taking skills! Have a “talking stick” (a stick spray painted gold) or a square of paper that represents the floor and physically pass these items around to indicate who can talk or who has the floor.  Quit interrupting one another and disrespecting one another and really listen to the heart of your spouse and child.  They might just say something profound!
  4. Play listening games together to hone their ability to listen discriminately.  For example, you might try a few of these:
  • Listen for sounds: Have the children close their eyes and become audibly sensitive to environmental sounds around them. As they lay or sit outside or in their home, have them tell what they hear. Sounds like cars, airplanes, animals, outside sounds, sounds in the next room etc. can be attended to and identified.
  • Download a free Sound Board app like the one here: this has lots of recorded everyday sounds to listen and identify.
  • Guess what musical instruments you hear:  Place 2-3 instruments in front of them. They can listen to the sounds of two or three, then close their eyes and the parent makes instrument sound and they name or point to instrument played. For increased difficulty, remove the actual instruments and just let them listen and identify the instrument. You can even use a bingo card like this to mark off when you hear a specific instrument played.
  • Guess the animal sound you hear.  Place plastic farm and zoo animals in front of them and then have them close their eyes. Have the parent make an animal sound then allow the child to point or touch animal sound they hear. For increased difficulty, remove the visual cue of the animal and just let them listen and identify the animal sound.
  • Use a vehicle puzzle that makes sounds or just puzzle pieces of various vehicles placed in front of child. Have them close their eyes, have the parent make the sound, or put piece into the puzzle and then they point or name vehicle that made the sound.
  • Identify various environmental sounds: tearing paper, stapler, tapping pen, bouncing a ball, sharpening a pencil, snapping, turning pages of a book, cutting with scissors, phone ringing, microwave buzzing, pouring water, turning on a faucet.  Let them make a sound and you guess the sound! Use a checklist like this to listen for specific sounds or add new items to the list!

These activities are so much fun to do and help them really begin to listen carefully! Have fun with your kid and we promise they will love spending time with you way more than that silly ipad!


Go get listening to one another!


*Strategies and resources in this blog post were built upon ideas from Educational Therapist, Bonnie Terry. Learn more about auditory processing and learning here. 

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