How to Really Listen to Your Kids – Validate, and Skip the Advice

Sharing is caring!

These tips on how to really listen to your kids help parents understand how to validate and empathize without needing to lecture or provide advice.


React or respond. 

This is one of the biggest challenges parenting can bring. The exhaustion, lack of patience, stress, and busyness of the day can wear on us. I find myself reacting much more often than responding. 

I mitigate sibling squabbles as I defrost chicken, I type on my computer while my child explains his latest drawing or I spend one-on-one time discussing the day while I fold laundry.

Much of my interaction with my children is done while multi-tasking, and out of reaction, as if I am running on auto-pilot.

It is in the moments when my children experience negative emotions that I’m forced out of reacting, and am ‘asked‘ to respond instead. 

Often, this means I have to really listen. Empathize, validate, understand…and skip the advice-giving.


These tips on how to really listen to your kids help parents understand how to validate and empathize without needing to lecture or provide advice.

*This post contains affiliate links.


How to Really Listen to Your Kids

I’ve written before about the power of validating your child’s experience. This includes the acknowledgement of their feelings or emotions in the moment. Showing them that you understand how they are feeling, and are willing to ‘hear them out’, despite your own stance on the subject.


These tips on how to really listen to your kids help parents understand how to validate and empathize without needing to lecture or provide advice.


This is a really powerful tool that we hold as parents, educators, caregivers, etc.

But, in order to really listen to your kids, there has to be a level of acceptance in your understanding and validation, and that can’t be paired with a lecture or advice.


Skip the advice.


As parents, we want to fix. We want to eliminate a negative emotion from our child’s experience, and feel that providing them with a solution to their problem will do just that.

In the book, How to Talk so Kids Will Listen, and Listen So Kids Will Talk, this is discussed. When our child presents us with a ‘problem’, we provide a ‘solution’.

I’m hungry.

Then eat.

I’m tired.

Then go to sleep.

I’m mad.

Calm down.


These are very basic scenarios where we attempt to solve our child’s problems by offering a solution. This is what I am referring to as a reaction in parenting. A + B = C.

But, when we take the time to respond instead of react, we are making the choice to really understand and empathize with what our child is feeling.


These tips on how to really listen to your kids help parents understand how to validate and empathize without needing to lecture or provide advice.


Often, in the moments where we are able to respond, listen, and understand, we are giving our children a  great power in providing them the opportunity to solve their own problems. To work through their feelings and understand on a deeper level that which they are experiencing.

Not only are we there for them, but we are empowering them.


So how can we really listen?


Ask yourself these questions:

  • what is it that my child is feeling?
  • can I label this emotion for them?
  • do they have the vocabulary to express it themselves?
  • how would want my spouse/significant other/friend/boss to respond?
  • what are they looking for in this exchange?
  • how can I validate this experience?


And then respond. 

The differences I have noticed between a reaction and a response in my own parenting are as follows:

The reaction happens out of response to external stimuli, often without thinking; the response occurs after a moment of pause and consideration with how I might respond next.

The latter provides me with the chance to really listen to what my child is saying and assess his needs. It reminds me to be present, to empathize and understand what they are feeling. And it saves me from jumping to a lecture or advice, often with the intent of providing a solution.


Take some time to think about the responses you provide your own child when they are experiencing a negative emotion, such as embarrassment, anger, sadness, disappointment, etc.

Do you offer them validation, understanding, and an empathetic ear? Or are you quick to lecture, place blame, and offer advice?


Try just listening. Really listening. And asking yourself the questions above.


Sometimes all you need to offer is a “that sounds really embarrassing”, or “that must have made you really mad” to get your child talking, or on the road to processing their emotions in a really safe and understanding space <3


If you want to check out the book that I mentioned above, How to Talk to Kids Will Listen, grab a copy on Amazon, or listen to it on Audible (this is what I do in the car!). You can try it free for one month >> details here.


*Photo credit: sad child with mom, mother hugging sad daughter, mother teaching daughter to tie shoes
  • Read More
    Setting Up a Calm Down Corner for Kids: A Time-Out Alternative
    July 29, 2014
  • Read More
    3 Ways Parenting a Spirited Child Can Bring You Joy
    January 23, 2016
  • Read More
    5 Steps to Reconnecting with Your Kids After Yelling
    February 15, 2016
  • Read More
    How to Help an Angry Child Calm Down
    April 10, 2016
  • Read More
    Best Resources for the Angry Child (and their Parents too!)
    May 18, 2016
  • Read More
    Saying "Calm Down" To Your Kids Doesn't Actually Work
    July 7, 2016
  • Do you have a spirited child? We all have big dreams for our kids, here are some hopes I have for mine, it includes the patience for those who don't always understand him.
    Read More
    20 Hopes for My Spirited Child 
    July 14, 2016
  • Read More
    Books About Accountability and Responsibility
    August 31, 2016
  • These pieces of parenting advice you won't hear every day will help you to see that you are doing the best that you can. That you are tired. And you doubt yourself. But you do the best you can, which IS the best for your own kids.
    Read More
    Parenting Advice You Won't Hear Every Day
    October 14, 2016
  • Read More
    10 Health-Conscious Brands Moms Want to Know About
    October 21, 2016
  • Read More
    Working Together: Active Parenting in Foster Families and Stepfamilies
    October 24, 2016
  • Read More
    Must-Haves for Traveling with Toddlers PLUS a Giveaway!
    November 3, 2016
  • Read More
    Raising Charitable Kids Who Give to Others
    November 5, 2016
  • Read More
    Books for Teaching Kids to Give Back and Help Others
    November 10, 2016
  • Read More
    How to Gently Handle Aggression in Young Children
    November 30, 2016
  • Read More
    How to Avoid Overstimulation in Kids During the Holidays
    December 10, 2016
  • You CAN improve your child's behavior with this one simple trick, and it's not as tricky as you might think.
    Read More
    How to Listen to Your Child: This one thing affects behavior
    December 16, 2016
  • Here are 12 must-read parenting articles that went totally viral on Pinterest, many with over 100,000 and 200,000 re-pins.
    Read More
    12 Must-Read Parenting Articles with Social Proof
    December 30, 2016
  • Read More
    Best Cold Weather Kids Gear for Outdoor Play
    January 2, 2017
  • Read More
    Do This One Thing to Stop Whining in Kids
    January 11, 2017
  • Read More
    5 Ways to Teach Your Kids Compassion for Animals
    February 5, 2017
  • Read More
    How to Gently Handle Your Kids Fighting
    February 6, 2017
  • Read More
    Raising (and embracing) a Strong Willed Daughter
    February 16, 2017
  • Read More
    2 Gentle Parenting Principles that You Need to Know
    February 23, 2017
  • Read More
    A Letter To My Wife's Online Mommy Friends
    February 28, 2017
  • Read More
    15 Kids Bath Toys PLUS Tips for Making Bath Time Fun!
    March 2, 2017
  • Read More
    6 Essential Oil Blends for Peace and Calm
    March 9, 2017
  • Read More
    How to Deal with an Angry Kid in a Gentle Way
    March 22, 2017
  • Read More
    Tips for Surviving the Week with a Husband who Travels for Work
    March 29, 2017
  • Read More
    8 Ways Kids Can Calm Down Anywhere PLUS a Printable Mini Book
    April 3, 2017
  • Read More
    Does your child ignore you? These three tricks help children listen.
    April 12, 2017
  • Read More
    How to Raise Optimistic Kids: The Power of Positive Thinking for Children
    April 27, 2017
  • Read More
    Books about Optimism for Kids
    May 11, 2017
  • Read More
    Validate the feelings and emotions of your child, even if you don't agree
    June 1, 2017
  • creative play in preschoolers
    Read More
    Five Ways to Encourage Creative Play in Your Preschooler
    July 6, 2017
  • Read More
    This 5-Minute Mom Hack Will Makeover Your Kid's Morning Routine
    August 3, 2017
  • Read More
    There's No Such Thing as a Fake Cry
    August 11, 2017
  • Read More
    Printable Back to School Affirmation Lunchbox Notes
    August 31, 2017
  • Read More
    10 Reasons You Need a Bottle of Vetiver Essential Oil
    September 7, 2017
  • Read More
    Free Calm Down Printables to Add to Your Calming Corner
    September 14, 2017
  • Read More
    End Pediatric Cancer with Hope on Wheels: 5 Ways Kids Can Give Back
    September 28, 2017
  • Read More
    It’s OK to Have an Angry Child 
    October 5, 2017
  • Read More
    Books About Persistence and Problem Solving for Kids
    October 12, 2017
  • Read More
    Print these powerful mantras for moms, and stay calm in the chaos.
    October 19, 2017
  • Read More
    20+ Family Christmas Traditions to Get You in the Holiday Spirit
    November 2, 2017
  • Read More
    Phrases for Promoting a Growth Mindset in Perfectionist Children
    December 8, 2017
  • Read More
    A Mom & Son Date to Red Mango: Plus, 10 Simple Date Ideas to Print!
    December 11, 2017
  • Read More
    How to Really Listen to Your Kids - Validate, and Skip the Advice
    January 2, 2018
  • Read More
    How to Host a Playdate in 2018 and Ditch the Stress
    January 10, 2018
  • Read More
    Refresh Your Calm Down Corner with the Sensory TheraPLAY Box!
    February 27, 2018
  • Read More
    The Mindfulness App that Improved Bedtime for My Spirited Boy
    March 12, 2018
  • Read More
    Make Connection One of Your Most Powerful Positive Parenting Tools
    March 26, 2018
  • Read More
    The Simple Hack to Happy Kids in the Morning
    April 8, 2018
  • Read More
    Teaching Accountability and Responsibility to Kids
    April 23, 2018
  • Read More
    5 Expert Tips to Avoid Tick Bites. Here are the DOs and DON'Ts
    June 24, 2018
  • Read More
    Using Growth Mindset to Inspire Young Leaders
    July 9, 2018
  • Read More
    3 Tips to Travel with Kids and Stay Prepared
    August 1, 2018
  • Read More
    A Weighted Blanket Saved Bedtime in Our House
    August 6, 2018
  • Read More
    Back to School Essential Oil Blends to Help Your Kids
    August 9, 2018
  • Read More
    What is Positive Discipline? Tips for Busy Parents.
    September 17, 2018
  • Read More
    10 Quick Positive Discipline Tips You Can Rely On
    February 4, 2019
  • Read More
    Simply Earth Essential Oils Unboxing + Video
    February 27, 2019

Parenting Mini-Ebook

Screen shot 2017 08 03 at 4.49.24 pm

Enter your email address to get this FREE parenting tips mini-ebook delivered straight to your inbox.

We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit

Sharing is caring!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *