Games that Nurture Listening Skills

by Christa Hines on September 22, 2014

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shared. (1)When others pay attention to what we say in a conversation, we feel validated, like what we contribute is meaningful to those we are conversing with–even if they happen to disagree with us.

By definition, dialogue is the shared give-and-take between speaking and listening. So why does it feel like so many conversations are more like competing monologues?

For sure, listening is a difficult skill to learn, but it can be nurtured. While your kids may not always tune into everything you have to say, here are four fun games to help promote active listening skills.

20 Questions. One person picks a person, place or thing. Other players have to make guesses by asking questions to gather clues. The person who listens carefully to the clues and guesses correctly in 20 questions or less gets to go next.

Shout-out. Use this game when reading books or listening to songs with lots of repetition. Whenever your toddler or preschooler hears the key word or phrase, she can shout it out. Popular children’s books that use repetition, include Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed; Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day; Brown Bear, Brown Bear; and Bear Snores On.

Who am I? Gather your preschooler’s stuffed animals and have her turn her back. This game will probably get both of you giggling! Pretending to be one of her stuffies, use a silly voice and describe your characteristics. Can she figure out which one of her favorite lovies you are describing?

Picture it. Have your child take a blank piece of paper and a pencil. Using step-by-step instructions, tell your child what to draw. How accurate was he? Then let him challenge you!

(Additional listening game ideas are included in my book Happy, Healthy & Hyperconnected: Raise a Thoughtful Communicator in a Digital World.)

What do you do to promote listening in your home?

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Kristi Burritt September 22, 2014 at 1:57 pm

I think awareness of nonverbal cues is important for effective communication. We are trying to teach our boys that if a person says they are ok but have tears in their eyes they might want to ask a follow up question and notice that they don’t look ok.


CMHines4 September 22, 2014 at 2:38 pm

You are so smart to be teaching your kids such a valuable skill, Kristi. There is some concern that our kids’ ability to read nonverbal cues will be affected because of over-reliance on digital interactions.


Heidi Luedtke September 22, 2014 at 4:57 pm

We take turns each night at bedtime sharing our best moments of the day. Taking turns talking emphasizes the importance of listening, and I always get fun insights into what turns my kids on.


CMHines4 September 22, 2014 at 8:03 pm

What a wonderful way to wind down the day for both you and your kids, Heidi!


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