One of the most important discipline skills children can have is the ability to listen to parents, teachers, and friends. Listening is an intergral part of learning, safety and relationships. A certain amount of a child's attention is natural, they can't help wanting to listen, to hear things, to understand them. It's our job to encourage this and help them focus and improve.
But how are your listening skills? You can't teach what you don't know, so let's check the definition of "active listening" -- a tool for letting kids know you hear them, and a skill they can learn, to let you know they hear you, too.
When you're actively listening, you give the other person your full attention. No wandering eyes, no loss of focus. When the other person is talking, don't be so caught up in thinking of your response that you don't actually hear what is being said. Don't assume you already know what they're going to say. Even if you do.
Another aspect is to give the other person cues that you are listening: nod your head, acknowledge their points, make eye contact (but don't stare).
Listening and not allowing yourself to be distracted gives your child the message that they are important to you, that their needs and wants are understood and considered, even if they don't get what they want. Modelling active listening helps your children learn to listen respectfully too. Even if you have to remind them how!