We know the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are pretty forward-thinking in their parenting techniques, and saw an example of this not long after they touched down in Canada to commence the royal tour with their children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte.
At one point, Kate squatted down on the tarmac to 3-year-old Prince George's height in order to make eye contact while she spoke to him.
Known as the active-listening technique, this was precisely what the Queen scolded Prince William for back in June when he too squatted down to speak to his son on the balcony of Buckingham Palace during the trooping of the color. The monarch was seen tapping her grandson on the arm and gesturing to him to stand up as he crouched down beside Prince George.
Despite the Queen's disapproval, active listening is a parenting technique favored by many child-development experts. According to The Center for Parenting Education, it is the "single most important skill you can have in your parenting 'toolbelt.'" It sounds pretty simple. Basically, you get down on the child's level so you can make eye contact with them, and from then on it's all about listening to what they're saying without judgment or evaluation. Rather than trying to "fix" whatever is wrong with them, active listening shows your child that they're worthy of your attention, that their emotions are valued and that you trust in their ability to work through their own problems.
"Active listening is one of the most important ways you can send the message, 'You're important to me.' Get down on the child's level, lean in and make eye contact," writes child-development expert Gill Connell in A Moving Child Is a Learning Child.
Connell, who recommends responding to a child's words with positive verbal and nonverbal cues such as nodding, smiling and hugging, also writes, "These simple messages foster self-esteem in powerful ways while encouraging him to communicate even more."
But it may not be as easy as it sounds. It can take years to master, says The Center for Parenting Education. Well, it seems that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are willing to put in the necessary effort — they're certainly starting early in their kids' lives. And if we think our own toddlers have it bad, at least they don't have 20,000 camera flashes going off in their faces right after a 10-hour flight from London to Canada. If there were ever a time Prince George needed his mom's undivided attention, we'd say it was then.
If you think about it, active listening is a no-brainer. Don't we all feel better when we feel as if we're being listened to and really heard? It goes for all relationships: with friends, partners and colleagues, as well as between parents and kids. And while the Queen might not be down with Prince William squatting on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, getting down on a child's level is a simple gesture that says straight away, "I'm listening." Which, as parents, we kind of sign up to do, right?
For more information on active listening, visit The Center for Parenting Education.
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