Teaching Mindful Listening to Reduce Stress and Anxiety

Each new school year, students come to class carrying the weight of what is happening in their lives. This can cause anxiety and stress levels to rise and concentration and productivity levels to go down. One way we at Brown School work to combat this is to help your child(ren) or student(s) practice mindful listening.

Mindfulness Practices

Mindfulness practices increase our ability to regulate emotions and decrease stress, anxiety, and depression, which is one of our main focuses with an emphasis on social-emotional learning. Mindfulness allows us to focus our attention and increases our ability to observe our thoughts and feelings without judgment.There are many benefits gained from developing a practice of mindfulness including self-control, improved concentration, tolerance, flexible thinking, and the ability to treat others and yourself with compassion and kindness.

Mindful Listening

Mindful listening means giving full attention to the speaker and trying to understand the complete message being communicated. The ability to listen mindfully strengthens our attention and brings us completely into the present moment. It also helps develop empathy for others. In school, students who mindfully listen can follow directions more accurately, helping to eliminate errors and improve time management. Children who are able to actively listen to their classmates and teachers are better equipped to compromise and negotiate their conflicts independently.


Developing Good ListeningSkills

We don’t want to teach students to pretend they are listening. Some children can nod their heads and verbally agree at the right time. They can track their teacher as he or she walks across the room. But are they really listening? Are they thinking of something else or planning what they want to say? In class, we make children remove distractions such as cellphones or computers to focus their attention on the speaker. Children are reminded to refocus their attention on the speaker should their thoughts begin to wander. Students can learn to dismiss their random thoughts and biases and concentrate on what is being said, even if they find it boring.  


It’s also important to reinforce good manners. We remind children not to interrupt. When a person interrupts, it sends the message that they don’t care about another’s opinions, feelings, or ideas. We remind the students that they must wait for the speaker to pause before asking a question or making a comment, even if it is simply to agree with the speaker.

Reading stories, playing games, and having our students repeat directions back to us are all great ways to build their listening skills. However, the best way we teach mindful listening is to model being a mindful listener as well!

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