Whole Body Listening – Teaching Your Child Important Developmental Skills

Paying attention isn't as simple as it sounds.
By , on April 21, 2017 - Teaching

Whole Body Listening

Parents and teachers alike are constantly requesting that children simply pay attention. The truth is, as a child, paying attention is not simple, it is a task that requires learning through repetitive cures, and the actions of the people around them.

When the child fails to comply, it is easy to become irritated and raise our voice. We use phrases like “Why aren’t your listening to me?” At times, this question comes out angry. Other times, it comes out as though we are pleading with our child.

Children in Public Schools

One of the most common places that children struggle to focus is in a "mainstream" or public school. A lot of the children who have trouble focusing are labeled with one of the following tags:

  • A chronic behavioral problem
  • Lazy
  • Non-compliant
  • Purposely difficult
  • ADD
  • ADHD
  • And other behavioral problems

Misreading Children's Intentions

Even though some children are born with a natural ability to listen to what said around them, other children focus on visual stimuli, like the bright pictures around the classroom. The urge to focus on these bright colors can easily override the auditory response. This causes the teacher to misread the child's intentions.


Self-regulation is something that comes with time. For some children, appropriate self-regulation is not mastered until late elementary school, or even at the beginning of middle school.

The process of self-regulation development needs reinforcement by teachers and parents, which usually involves utilizing teaching styles that are not typically available in a large classroom.

Children that Fall into these Categories

While not all of them do, many children who fall into the label categories mentioned above actually do have an underlying problem. They may suffer from one of the following:

  • Difficulty with social learning
  • Sensory processing disorders
  • Challenges with their attention span

Understanding involves more than just listening. It is not actually considered part of hearing and it is not an auditory problem. Some children are able to listen with very little effort. Other children face a constant struggle to pay attention, mostly because they are lacking the skills to perform this task.

Teaching Through Whole Body Listening

Whole Body Listening came to light in 1990, by a woman named Susanne Truesdale. It is a method of developing fully functioning, active auditory skills. The theory behind her research is that children are not born to listen to what the words around them. It is a skill that reinforced over a time, and this is a topic rarely covered in the home and school environment.

Hearing with other parts of our body

Hearing is not just isolated to our ears. It actually extends to other parts of our bodies, which are typically ignored. The other parts of our body used to listen are:

  • Our brain
  • Our eyes
  • Our mouth
  • Our hands
  • Our feet
  • And even with our bottoms

By breaking down the entire process of listening by using the breakdown above, we can not only develop more empathy, but we can teach the concept of listening to students who are struggling in this area, providing them with a better chance of success.

Teaching Whole Body Listening

While teaching whole body listening may seem complicated, it can easily be broken down into sections that are manageable. By breaking it down, parents and teachers will be able to teach the skills necessary for every child to gain success in this area.

An experiment conducted by Listening Larry has provided a step by step plan on how to teach children to listen using their whole body. The experiment involved preschool and elementary school students. The habits he was successfully able to instill in these children were:

  • Using their eyes to focus 100% on the person who is talking at the moment.
  • Using their ears to hear the words being said.
  • Using their mouth to stay quiet while someone was speaking.
  • Positioning their hands in their lap to prevent them from distracting themselves.
  • Placing both feet flat on the floor, and ensuring they stay still.
  • Ensuring their body is properly seated in a chair, and they were facing the speaker.
  • Using their brain to think only about what the speaker is saying.
  • Using their emotions to genuinely care about what the person speaking is talking about.

Looking to the future

If this positive response manifested during a short-term experiment, just imagine the impact parents and teachers can have on a child, since they spend so much time with them.

Homeschool Mom

About Charlene Little

Charlene is a writer, a self-made momtrepreneur, and a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom. She has four wonderful, very active young boys. With all there is to do everyday, things are always chaotic and she loves every minute of it. Things we do in everyday life are a learning experience, and her… Full author bio

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