A child that isn’t listened to is a child that feels disempowered. Carers and professionals are expected to know what is best for the children and this often results in the feelings and the wishes of the child going unnoticed, along with their rights. Children are left feeling like they have no control. This oppression often results in the children acting out, being very angry and going missing. For most children that are in care, they have had adults making all the decisions for them, beginning when they are placed into care. Actively listening is extremely beneficial and this is something that we encourage and support you with.
Positive attachment behaviours, child development and the safeguarding of children required active listening, as highlighted in the Munro Report in 2011. The report highlighted the importance of actively listening to what the children want and need so that more could be done to ensure the children can shape their own futures and be actively involved in the provision of services they receive.
As a fostering agency, we firmly support the voice of the child and we believe that we’re the agency of choice for children and professionals looking to shift the balance of power from ‘doing to’ over to ‘doing with’.
The child’s voice is so important. We see this when children become involved in plans and have more successful experiences and outcomes. By active listening we’re able to see from the point of view of the child and children can develop their own story of what is happening. They want our attention and our time, they don’t want assumptions being made or to repeat the same story over and over. What children want is the truth, honest and clear explanations so they can understand. Children need to have some control over some of the choices that are being made and most importantly kept at the centre of all decisions.
Evidence shows that children whose voices are not heard don’t feel as safe, they are less happy and their wellbeing is decreased. When adults dominate all decisions and make assumptions the children become less visible. We can work together, spending time getting to know the children, what they are worried about, their concerns, interest, and ambitions. We can show an active interest. Children need to be age-appropriately involved and directly heard.
Learn more about active listening and shifting the power balance by speaking to us here at Foundation Fostering or clicking on the link below.