By: Jennifer Ripepi, MD, The Choosy Pediatrician
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.