The benefits of listening

Listening and hearing are different

Here’s a strange fact: if you record your baby crying and then play it back to them, they don’t get upset. They listen, but they are fine. If you play the sound of another baby crying, your baby will get upset.

That example helps illustrate the difference between hearing and listening. Hearing means you have noticed a sound. Listening is when you pay attention to understand the context and meaning of the sound. Young babies can listen. They can extract meaning from sound. In fact, they even pay more attention to words that are said linked to their names!

Listening builds brains

We hear things all the time, but listening requires us to pay close attention. Interestingly, when we pay attention, we build connections in our brain. Research shows it’s not hearing the sound that builds our brains, but our focused attention on the sound. And this takes practice.

Practice is part of the reason trained musicians are better at listening than are non-musicians. Musicians are better at noticing differences in music. They can also apply that skill to hearing emotions. Musicians are better than non-musicians at identifying emotions in voices. And they can do this both in their own language and in foreign languages. They are also better at distinguishing the various cries a baby makes. This is one of the reasons music training is good for kids’ brains. It helps them understand emotions.

Listening builds charisma

Do you want your child to be charismatic? Teach them to be a good listener. There are six elements of charismatic people. One of these is being highly attentive to the person who is speaking. We like people who listen to us compassionately.

Listening helps our health

Compassionate listening is also good for our health. When we are kind or compassionate, we activate our vagus nerve. Activating our vagus nerve often can improve the tone of this nerve. High vagal tone is correlated with a healthy heart and increased resilience to stress. It is also correlated with better emotional regulation. There are also experimental treatments stimulating the vagus nerve. Scientists believe it can help with depression. And there may be more benefits of having a healthy vagus nerve.

Teaching your child to listen attentively is good for their brain, their vagus nerve, and their future. This week we will look at various activities to help our children listen.

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