Scéalta – The Early Childhood Ireland Blog

< Back to Blog

Are you feeling heard?


Wednesday 02 October 2019

Have you ever been in a situation where it feels like you are not being listened to? Ever been waiting at the end of a customer service helpline listening to… ‘you are a valued customer, but all our lines are busy so please hold…you are in a queue, all our operators are busy, you are important to us…’ Is it just me, or does this drive other people crazy too? Under time pressure, I sometimes hang up in frustration and just say ‘forget it’ to myself. I don’t feel like a valued customer- this is just lip-service.

If we think about it, there are possibly lots of other times where we may not feel heard. Situations can arise in all contexts (at work, or in the community for example) where decisions made by others without consultation or at least sharing information can impact on us. This can bring a feeling of being powerless, and that feeling of not being heard is not a good feeling!

Powerless! We don’t want children to feel powerless. We are hearing a lot lately about the voice of the child and how important it is that children are listened to. Indeed, under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, children have the right to be heard. So it is important that we think about this in early childhood practice and consider how we are listening to the voice of the child so that they feel heard and empowered, as opposed to unheard and powerless. As you know, children’s voices are not always physically heard and therefore it is essential that we are skilled at carefully tuning in to children. We must observe all aspects of their behaviour for indications of their voice, particularly with very young children. Like adults in the scenario above, if children don’t feel heard, some may be able to communicate or protest and get their message across more easily but others may not and may withdraw instead or send other messages through their behaviour.

Two practical examples of ways to help us tune into children are through observation/documentation, and through a key-worker system. Observing and using learning stories to document life from the child’s perspective can help adults to tune in to the child. We must also involve children, including babies, in the process to have the most benefit. Rather than doing an observation ‘on a child’, work on documenting your observation with the child: remember it is their learning story after all and it should be meaningful not just for the sake of documentation. Children can take photos, draw, paint, sing, dance and play or be silent to tell us their stories. We just need to make sure that we are receptive and ready to listen. Having an effective key worker system in place can help staff to really tune in to individual children. Like with any skill, the more we practice, the better we will get (we hope) so spending more time with particular children should help us to hear their individual voices. Although, this can be challenging logistically at times, with staff turnover, maintaining room ratios etc. it will make a difference if it’s authentic and not just a policy on paper.

Getting through to a person on a customer care line is one thing, how they listen and respond to you is another thing! Similarly, tuning in and listening to children is one thing, but we also need to consider how we respond to ensure that children really feel heard. For children and adults, feeling that you have a voice is really important, feeling that your voice is heard and it actually has an impact is empowering.


Dr Jennifer Pope has been a lecturer in Early Childhood in Mary Immaculate College, Limerick since 2004. She has a particular interest in promoting the health and well-being of children in the earliest years. She is currently working on a publication with Dr Mary Moloney which is focused on children from birth to three.



0 comments Comments

Leave a Reply

Please Log In to comment:

Japan(1) Positivity(1) St. Patrick's Day(1) Mantra(1) Magic(1) ears(1) Child mental health(1) Kerry(1) Children's Rights(3) Childcare(3) Learning Story(1) collaboration(1) IGL(1) Our Little Seed(1) Fantasy play(1) Inter-generational(2) Graduation(1) dublin(2) Upcycling(1) Consent(1) Interaction(1) Event Guide(1) Minister Katherine Zappone(1) Wonder(1) Loss(1) christmas(9) Irish Early Years Research & Practice Seminar 2018(1) Socioemotional development(1) experience(1) Celebrations(4) trust(3) Vietnam(1) Children and families(1) Employee(1) Growing up in Ireland(3) First 5(1) Budget 2019(2) Workforce(1) Maynooth(1) Early Childhood Ireland National Awards(2) EM Standing(1) Intention(1) Well-Being(9) Environment(2) development(8) Early Learning and Care Centres(1) Magda Gerber(1) Educators(2) Mo Scéal(1) science(3) Inspired Practice Award(5) ICBN(1) Educator of the Year Award(3) Potential(1) Cognitive development(1) apps for children(1) Jenga(1) Interactions(2) Liz Kerrins(1) Dr. Emer Ring(1) gender stereotype(1) Academics(1) PIP(1) National Holiday(1) research submissions(1) listening(1) Early Years(1) Nutrition(1) play(32) bonds(1) Home Corner(1) Whole Group(1) Reflective Practice(1) Sweets(1) Dr Mary O'Kane(1) Recycling(2) Names(1) Maternity Leave(1) Winter(1) dining experiences(1) Educator Award - Leader in Practice(1) Games(1) Awards(2) social science(1) Sociodramatic play(1) Participation(2) Trick or treat(1) INTO(1) blog(28) child-centred approach(1) National Council for Curriculum and Assessment(1) GDPR(1) Frustrations(1) DES Inspection(1) preschool(3) Arithmetic(1) RTE Investigates(1) supportive environments(2) Awards 2018(3) Book Club(2) Mark Twain(1) behavioural science(1) TRAP(1) Research Conference 2019(1) Exploring and Thinking(1) Childcare Barometer 2018(1) Bereavement(2) Mud kitchens(1) CIT(1) parents(6) Smiles(1) UD(1) environments(1) Fee Play(1) Valentine's Day(3) Aldo Fortunati(4) Training(2) Community involvement(1) mushrooms(1) Ceremony(1) Interests(1) AIM(2) Identity(5) Valerie Gaynor(1) Learning journals(1) Treasure Chest(1) baby room(1) National Bereaved Children's Awareness Week(1) Norway(2) books(4) education(2) Iceland(1) CPD(1) Sleep(1) Scéalta Book Review(1) Storytelling(5) Inter-generational learning(2) Story(1) Thinking(1) Building Resilience(1) Nuturing interactions(1) relationships(17) meals(3) Halloween(2) Professionalisation(5) food(1) budget(1) Autism(4) Reading Time(1) Christmas Creativity(2) maternity health(1) Builders(1) reading(5) Breathing(2) Early Childhood Ireland’s National Early Childhood Research Conference 2019(1) Sequins(1) Leadership(1) Teamwork(1) Learning Story Awards(2) Arlene Forster(1) conference(1) outdoor play(6) Shapes(1) Glitter(2) listen(1) phone apps(1) E.coli(1) RIE philosphy(1) Exploring(1) communication(4) Department of Children and Youth Affairs(2) eating(1) Titles(1) Touch(1) Mindfulness(2) Affordability(1) Jillian van Turnhout(1) Snacks(1) University(1) Buddies(1) Children's Research Network(1) Vertical grouping(1) Maths(5) Mount Everest(1) Sculptures(1) routine(2) Early Learning and Care(1) Lego(2) friendships(1) Leargas(1) San Miniato(4) MA(1) Fabric(1) Gardening(1) UN(1) EECERA 2016(1) Role play(1) Document Learning(1) Xbox(1) Spiders(1) awards 2020(1) Motor neuron disease(1) ReCreate(2) Mathematicians(1) Culture(2) Behaviour(3) Maths Week Ireland(1) Administrative Burden(1) pablo(1) aistear blog(3) feisty(1) Grief(1) Performance Management(1) educarer(1) Buddy Bench(1) purpose(1) Favouritism(1) dining(1) curiosity(3) Meal time(1) Creativity(4) Super Shed Stories(1) Music(3) Magnavacchi(1) UNCRC(1) memories(1) Awards 2019(1) Masterclass(2) Vivian Gussin Paley(1) Self-regulation(1) School Age Childcare(1) Summer(1) grandchild(1) Sport(1) Horizon 2020(1) Decisions(1) Through the looking glass(1) Impact(1) Investment(2) Time Out(1) code of ethics(1) Children(3) curriculum(5) Exclusion(1) Tuscan Approach(2) man up(1) Digital Devices(1) COVID-19(2) Independence(1) pets(1) Primary School(2) Budget 2018(1) Ariana Pucci(1) emotional environment(1) United Nations(1) Staff Motivation(1) life long learning(1) Policy and Implementation Panel(1) Eritrea(1) Traffic Lights(1) Meet the Members(1) Belonging(3) Laugh(1) Body Language(1) Snakes(1) General Data Protection Regulation(1) Thank you(1) Shoes(1) Hand Hygiene(1) dogs(1) Family wall(1) stories(2) youdoodle(1) AsIAm(2) HR(1) keezy(1) Santa(2) NCCA(3) planning(1) Twitter(1) Supernanny(1) Minister for Children and Youth Affairs(1) National Early Childhood Research Conference(1) Learning Stories Award(3) Patterns(1) Rituals(1) MECPI(1) Graduate(1) Wrapping paper(1) Communications(1) Pen green(1) babies(7) Technology(3) Equality & Inclusion Guidelines Training(1) Leprechauns(1) Cork(1) refugees(1) Online(1) Pobal sector profile(1) Craft(1) Playschool(1) Health(2) Exercise(1) Performing(1) Imagination(3) Change(1) learning bias(1) Inclusion(3) Italy(1) Certificate(1) Aistear Siolta Practice Guide(1) Engineering Ireland(1) Special Needs Assistants(1) Light table(1) Mealtimes(1) early years research(2) Irish(1) Creative(1) Inspirational(2) emotions(2) Giraffe(2) First 5 strategy(1) Scéalta Blog(94) Sustainability(3) Síolta Quality Assurance programme(1) Infectious diseases(1) Mayo(1) Line-ups(1) ECEC(2) Maria Montessori(1) Dance(1) Rich Documentation(1) Time(1) Reggio Children Network(1) Communicating(1) TOY Programme(1) under 3's(3) Kilkenny(1) Síolta(110) Degree(1) Access and Inclusion Model(2) Oireachtas(1) National Awards 2018(2) Engineers Week(2) worries(1) Scents(1) Window(1) preschool settings(1) Self Help Skills(1) Relaxation(1) Children's Voice(1) LINC Award for Leadership in Inclusion(2) Mixed age groups(2) Reggio(1) Yoga(1) Rising to the Challenge(2) ECCE(7) Human Resources(1) Childhood(1) Prexit(1) linc(1) Plants(1) SPICE Framework(1) gender bias(1) Gratitude(1) Together Old and Young Programme(1) Cork Institute of Technology(1) Awards Night(1) Celebrate(1) scéalta(30) Leaders in Practice(1) Laughter(1) Kids Own(1) risky play(2) Quality(4) Universal Design(2) Art(6) UN Sustainable Development Goals(1) New Appointments(1) outdoor space(3) Sessional service(1) Facebook(1) Youtube Series(1) Empathy(1) Policy(2) Engagement(1) Trade union(1) community(5) Digital(1) transitions(10) Flowers(1) Learning Stories(9) Easter(1) Wendy Lee(3) Deirdre Rogers(1) Painting(1) Brain(1) imotion(1) Sustainable(1) Academic Skills(1) continual professional development(1) Confidence(1) documentation(3) National Pyjama Day(1) Study Trip(1) social media(1) Trigonometry(1) play stories(1) The Lullaby Book(1) conversations(1) early childhood educator(1) Social Skills(1) Advocacy(1) European Project(1) Penguins(1) Maynooth University(1) Department of Education and Skills(1) Death(2) Running(1) Visitors(1) Montessori & Early Childhood Professionals Ireland(1) Routines(2) Exit interview(1) outdoors(3) Workplace Relations(3) College(1) Thanks(1) Feeding(1) Stress(2) Maths Week(1) Nonverbal(1) Decision Making(1) Inspired Practice Awards(1) First 5 transitions for children award(1) Diversity(1) Early Years Educators(3) Trade Unions(1) Montessori(3) Research and Professional Learning(1) Settling in(4) Irish Childhood Bereavement Network(1) Limerick(1) Pobal(1) Anxiety(2) Budget 2020(1) respect(5) The Jelly King(1) learners(1) Treasure(1) Growing up Outdoors(1) research(6) ECEC Setting(1) Traditions(2) Little Buddies(1) Inspections(1) Support(1) Self-Esteem(1) Wesco(1) interacting(2) Care-giving routines(1) story time(2) Adoption(1) overhear(1) ERASMUS+(3) Drawing(2) Challenges(1) Albert Einstein(1) Partnership with Families Innovation Award(2) Learning Journal(1) Emergent Curriculum(1) Family(1) Biting(1) Design(1) toddlers(3) Siolta blog(7) Reggio Emilia(1) Party(1) early years learning(1) animals(2) structure(1) Snack Time(1) DCYA(4) Malaguzzi(1) value(1) Orla Kenny(1) Competent(1) Annual Conference 2019(1) Syria(1) Aistear(116) Annual Conference 2017(2) bloom app(1) Engineering(3) code of professional responsibility(1) Early Childhood Care and Education(1) science week(2) Seas Suas(1) Identity and Belonging(4) STEM(3) journey(1) Qualifications(1) Research Seminar(1) National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education(1) Síolta QAP(1) risk assessment(1) Arts(1) Capable(1) National Awards 2019(1) Recycle(1) Blocks(1) educating(1) Confident(1) Funding(1) NAEYC(1) Weather(1) Love(2) Wilenski(1) Afghanistan(1) Iraq(1) Workplace well-being(1) Appreciation(1) learning(19) CCTV(1) annual conference(1) Visual Impairment(1) Book Review(1) Plastic(1) Map(1) Margy Whalley(1) Educator - Leader in Practice Award(1) Infection Control(1) Frosty the Snowman(1) Queues(1) Mental Health(3) risk(2) Toby Bears Camping Trip(1) Playdough(1) Elders(1) Care routines(1) Photographs(1) role playing(1) Obesity(1) iOS(1) Providing Leadership to the First 5(1)


Site maintained and developed by Cloud Nine