One of the reasons I like working with teens is because they seem to have some pretty interesting perspectives. They often seem to have their own solutions for how life should go. Even if the solution is selfish. Even if the solution jeopardizes their safety. Even if the solution goes against the rules. Home rules. Parent rules.
But there is one thing I’ve learned that works with teens firsthand before jumping in to tell them their solution won’t help, is illogical, or just not safe. Want to know what that secret is? It’s pretty simple, but it sometimes can be sooo hard to execute. It’s a simple act. Active Listening.
Yep, active listening. Like nothing else. Active listening is listening intently without any judgement. It’s paying attention to verbal cues as well as letting the speaker know you’re in tune to what she is saying. It’s the one thing that can transform a relationship in a minute and/or over time. Teens want to be heard, and they want to be heard by their parents. When is the last time you may have had a good talk with your child? What does a good talk look like with your teen? Consider these actions that get in the way of connection when attempting to use active listening skills with your teen.
Am I a parent who:
- Nags, lectures, criticizes or advises when my teen has something to say?
- Is too busy and brush aside opportunities to have meaningful talks with my teens?
- Overreacts or blows up to what my teen is saying?
- Dominates the conversation when my child is listening?
If the answer to any of these questions is an honest yes, then consider using active listening to connect with your teen. Eliminating these and providing open and intent listening skills will help build a better relationship with your teen.