Amanda Ann Gregory, LCPC, EMDR Certified 

Teaching children active listening skills is vital. These skills can help children improve their social skills and relationships. Here are a few games that you can use to teach active listening skills to a child in your life. 


All children struggle to listen; it’s a fact. Poor listening is a component of healthy child development. Children often interrupt, struggle to remain still, forget, and get easily distracted. Sometimes, adults unknowing hold children to adult expectations when it comes to listening. When your teaching or mentoring a child to listen, be aware that your expectations need to be in line with the child’s developmental level. Also, take into consideration any learning disabilities or emotional needs that this child may have which may make active listening skills more difficult to instill. Keep these factors in mind when you’re teaching a child active listening skills. 

Repeat It Back 

Rules: You and the child will take turns acting as a speaker and a listener. The speaker will tell a short story. The listener will then repeat the story back as they heard it. 

Tips: 1) You can make this game fun by telling silly stories or stories based on the child’s interests. For example, if the child loves animals, you can tell a story about an animal. 2) You can make this game more challenging for older children by telling longer stories. This will challenge the child to listen for a longer period of time. 3) Repeat the story more than once if this helps the child to listen, 4) Provide the child with positive feedback regarding their ability to listen and repeat.  

Repeat It Back In Your Own Words

Rules: You and the child will take turns each acting as a speaker and a listener. The speaker will tell a short story. The listener will then repeat the story back in their own words or with their own interpretation. 

Tips: 1) Provide lots of encouragement as this game can be difficult, and be aware that smaller children may not be able to use many of their own words or interpretations. 2) Consider acting as the listener first, and perhaps do so multiple times to allow the child to watch how you rephrase a story in your own words. 3) Do not expect the child to use all of their own words, as many adults cannot rephrase a story without relying on some of the words used by the speaker. 4) Encourage the child to ask questions if they are confused or if they need you to repeat the story. 


Rules: You and the child take turns as a leader and follower. The leader will express nonverbal communication and the follower will match this communication (as if they are looking in a mirror). As the leader, express a variety of nonverbal communications that indicate listening which including facial features and postures that express listening. Here’s some ideas: head nods, leaning forward, frowns, smiles, eye contact, and open postures. 

Tips: 1) If the child seems bored, you can integrate silly postures and facial features along with the more serious ones. 2) Provide the child with feedback regarding how they appear once the game is over or during a break. You can say, “You looked so focused” or “I knew you were paying attention the entire time.” 3) Provide the child with lots of praise.

Active listening skills can improve a child’s ability not only to listen but to communicate. This communication can improve the child’s relationships with you and others.Contact Symmetry Counseling to meet with a therapist for family therapy in Chicago.