Getting kids to open up by active listening

Judy Willis, MD, MEd Neurologist, explains how parents can get their kids to open up and express themselves more through a process she calls active listening
How Active Listening Can Help You Get Your Kids To Open Up
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Getting kids to open up by active listening

It is so said when we hear from our kids, "I hate school. Please don't make me go to school." It is valid. School has become a high stress place, but what can we do as parents when they say they hate it. The simple and most important thing that we can do when they say they hate or they love something is listen. Nobody gives them a chance to fully explain their reactions to things. In school, in a full school day the interaction, actual verbal interaction between a student and teacher is ten minutes. So a parent letting kids express what their feelings are, not trying to solve, being an active listener. Not trying to solve their problems or trying to say, "Oh that happened to me." Nothing but active listening. When there is time for a pause repeat them back. "Okay, I hear you saying that what you do not like at school is this." Repeating that back, not asking questions, you will find your child saying more and more. Remember they do not have these executive functions of insight and deduction. So as they see that you are really listening they will start figuring things out for themselves. You will be amazed when a child goes from saying they hate something to you asking them to describe their feelings and connecting as a listener.

Judy Willis, MD, MEd Neurologist, explains how parents can get their kids to open up and express themselves more through a process she calls active listening


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Judy Willis, MD, MEd


After graduating Phi Beta Kappa as the first woman graduate from Williams College, Judy Willis attended UCLA School of Medicine where she was awarded her medical degree. She remained at UCLA and completed a medical residency and neurology residency, including chief residency. She practiced neurology for 15 years before returning to university to obtain her teaching credential and master's of education from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She then taught in elementary and middle school for 10 years.

Dr. Judy Willis is an authority on brain research and its applications regarding learning. With the unique background as a parent, neurologist, classroom teacher, and neuro-educator she writes extensively for parenting magazines and professional educational journals. Dr. Willis has written six books for parents and educators about applying brain research to parenting and teaching.

Dr. Willis is on the adjunct faculty of the Graduate School of Education, University of California and gives presentations to parents and educators nationally and internationally about how to help children learn joyfully and successfully. She is on the Board of Directors of the Hawn Foundation, dedicated to helping children improve academic performance and acquire vital social and emotional skills. In 2011, she was honored by Edutopia, as a “Big Thinker on Education”.

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