Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Do You Hear What I Hear?

By: Jennifer Ripepi, MD, The Choosy Pediatrician

Hearing is one of the major senses that we have. Having two ears working together to locate sound is something that many beings have developed over eons of evolution. Unfortunately, our hearing can be easily damaged by loud sounds, infections, or a family history of hearing loss among other reasons. My husband has lost hearing in one ear and it can be very difficult for him at times. But we can protect our hearing from noise damage.


Using noise cancelling ear plugs or headphones when we may be in a noisy situation is one way. Avoiding those situations when possible is another. Please remember to practice safe sound levels for yourself and your family. Children should have their hearing screened when they are a newborn and again as they get to be preschoolers. If you have concerns about your child's hearing, please discuss it with your health care provider. Some children may need to have their hearing tested at a facility especially designed to screen children.

But the really fun part of hearing is listening! What a skill! So many fun sounds to hear! Like music, laughing, birds, crickets, a babbling brook, ...I could continue but you get the idea. Let's help the children in our lives learn to pick up sounds. Just like learning to see and identify objects visually, we can help children learn to identify sounds. Think about "I Spy" for your ears! One activity may be to learn bird calls. If you have a smart phone you can find information about birds in your area and play a snippet of their calls. Try sitting in a park or your yard and finding the birds you can see and then listen for their calls. If you have a backyard bird feeder this is really easy.

Another fun way to get children to pay attention to sounds is to simply ask them to sit quietly and pick out how many different sounds they hear. This could be while you are waiting in line at the bank, doing grocery shopping, or playing at the playground. Just taking a few minutes to really listen to the sounds around you can make you more aware of the moment. Add a few deep breaths and you have just meditated, my friend!


Listening in conversation is another skill we can help our children to learn. Really looking at our speaker, observing gestures and hearing the words they are saying are all part of listening. Demonstrating good listening skills and letting children practice them is important to do often. Try having them repeat what you have said to them so you can gauge their skill level. Try shorter sentences and avoid lists for young children. Chances are they just processed the last or the first thing you said. The rest just sounds like adults in a Peanuts episode. My mom (a teacher) taught me to wait about 3 to 5 seconds for the words to get processed through my children's brains. Do you ever ask a question then get the automatic "what" or "huh" right after? Then you repeat the question as the child is answering? Yep, 3 to 5 seconds is about right.

Has hearing ever been an issue for anyone in your family? What are some techniques you use to help you children listen better? I hope that you and your family have many years of hearing each other's laughter and amazing stories!


About the Author: I have been a pediatrician for over 25 years. My husband and I have been privileged to raise 4 bright and healthy children. I have tried to gather wisdom from the families I have been blessed to meet during my journey. I believe in practical and flexible parenting to help raise healthy adults. I love to garden, hike, travel and cook and I am looking forward to hearing from Choosy followers.

26 comments :

  1. Listening in conversation is definitely a challenge with little ones. They don't always have the attention span, lol. I like the idea of encouraging them to listen for specific sounds.

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    1. Listening is a challenge with adults as well and takes ongoing practice. Have fun with this!

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  2. What a neat post! We always talk about "using our listening ears", but I love the concepts you talked about.

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  3. This is such a timely post for me! I just ordered three pairs of noise protecting headphones for the 4th of July. It will be the twins first time going, and I didn't want the noise to scare them. Now, I'm really glad because it will protect their hearing too. We're really working on practicing our listening skills too.

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    1. Great way to enjoy the holiday.
      Please prevent injuries by avoiding sparklers which burn superhot and tend to be too close to little faces!

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  4. My daughter is very sensitive to sounds. She can hear highway traffic from miles away!

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  5. Ooooo interesting!!!! I was convinced my daughter couldn't hear anything so we took her for a real hearing test and she listened to the doctor and passed! Swear some kiddos are either too sensitive or just ignore sounds....

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  6. I like the "I Spy" hearing idea. That would be really fun with birds. It could be tricky though!

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    1. I hear with my little ear...then start with sounds they are familiar with then work toward new sounds. Or make up a game of your own!

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  7. Teaching kids to listen can be a bit of challenge but once you have their attention it's really going to be a lot easier. It would be better if you can make it fun for them too.

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  8. This is a great post and I can apply this to my boys

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  9. This is so interesting and this is helpful when i have a kid

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  10. I thought this was a very interesting post. There are often times when my girls won't really listen to what I'm saying. I like the idea of having them listen to what's around them.

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  11. Hearing loss is an issue with family members over the age of 65. Paying attention, however is something we have taught our kids. We have associated this skill with respect for the person talking.

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    1. Respect for others by listening is a wonderful lesson. Keep it up!

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  12. Truly informative post. Lots of people can hear but only few are actually "listening".

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  13. I'm glad someone raised some awareness over hearing issues and solutions, good read. When I was a kid I was pampered very carefully when it comes to my ears, I would always clean my ears every 2-3 days and prevent loud music or earphones.

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  14. Its essential to really be present when talking to ans responding to our children. We teach them how to LISTEN and that is the most essential part of Hearing!

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  15. I don't think people often realize how delicate our hearing is. I lost some of mine as a child over a bad ear infection. It's so important to protect your hearing.

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    1. So true. I hope that the hearing you have stays with you. Others really have difficulty understanding how limiting hearing loss can be.

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  16. It is hard to make your child listen to you. The key is you listened to them first.

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    1. That's right! Sometimes paraphrasing what they've said so they know you heard them and understand them helps them to learn the same technique.

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  17. Luckily, there is no one in the family got ear disorder. However, we will have a checkup just to be sure.

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  18. My son has selective hearing. I think it's inherited because my mom said I had it too. ;)

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