Communication is Key with Your Teenager
The teenage years of a child are one of the most troublesome times for a parent. During these years, most teens pull away from their parents to assert their independence. In addition, it is also when they’re setting boundaries, throwing tantrums, and doing exciting new things.
This development stage is where teens begin creating decisions that have real and life-long consequences. These things include making new friends, choosing schools, selecting vitamins that are essential for men and women their age, and learning how to drive. But, unfortunately, they are also susceptible to harmful activities like drinking alcohol, partying, substance use, and experimenting with sex.
However, this is a vulnerable time since they aren’t good at regulating their emotions yet. Hence, they’re prone to making impulsive decisions and taking unnecessary risks. That is why having a healthy and trusting relationship between you and your child is crucial during their teenage years.
Importance of Listening to Your Teen
You can achieve a positive relationship with your teen by improving the communication between the two of you. Besides, good communication starts with you knowing when to talk and especially how to listen. Hence, good listening skills are fundamental for building a relationship with your teenager.
Listening is more than just hearing the words your teen is saying. But it is tuning in to their thoughts and feelings. In addition, taking the time to listen to your teen shows that you are respecting their thoughts and opinions. Then, this will help in building trust between the two of you. Moreover, listening will allow you to understand and learn what is happening with your teen’s life.
When you’re listening, it lets your teen be the one talking. Talking helps your child to think more clearly. Furthermore, this situation will allow them to express their feelings and thoughts without any correction or judgment. That is why listening is a vital skill that every parent must have.
Practical Tips for Listening to Your Teen
One of the parents’ main concerns is thinking of “what is the right response” when talking with their teen. However, parents need to understand that most of the time, listening to your child is more important than what you have to say.
The following are five (5) practical tips to ensure that you truly hear your teenager and make sure that they know it.
Create a Safe Environment
The first step you need is to create a safe environment for your teen to share their thoughts and feelings. It would help if you assured them that they could tell the truth and be honest in anything with you. Moreover, they should not fear any judgment, blame, or ridicule from you. However, it is most crucial that you stick to your promise and never break it.
Give Them Your Full Attention
When communicating with your teen, you must give all of your attention to them. By doing so, you will send a message that the most important thing right now is your teen. It also tells them that you are interested and available on what they’re saying, thinking, and feeling.
Turn off any appliances that may distract you from your child, including the television, radio, and speakers. Also, put down your phones, tablets, laptops, and other devices. Model the behavior that you would expect from your teen.
Don’t Interrupt Them
Listening to your teen means allowing them to talk without interruption. Avoid asking any questions or saying anything until they’re finished talking so that you wouldn’t break their train of thought. In addition, this will help you concentrate on what they are saying and identify if there are any hidden meanings with their words.
Display Positive Body Language
When communicating with your teen, displaying positive body language shows that you genuinely care about what they’re saying. You can do this by getting close when your teen is speaking, using eye contact to show that you are listening, nodding your head appropriately, and simply saying, “I see.”
When there is a pause, you can also ask them, “Then what happened?” or “And then?” Moreover, avoid sighing, eye-rolling, crossing your arms around your chest, and looking into the distance or over your shoulder.
Restate in Your Own Words What You Heard Them Say
Restating what your teen says is a crucial act of proving that you are paying attention to them. In addition, it tells them that you are trying to understand their story. Moreover, it assures your teen that you’re truly hearing them. Furthermore, if you restate their story incorrectly, it gives them the chance to re-explain it and avoid any misunderstanding between you two.
The Bottom Line
Staying close and having an open relationship with your teen may not be as easy when they were a child. Some teens are open books with their friends but mute as fish with their parents. If you want to find out what’s going on with your teen, learn how to communicate with them properly.
However, interrogating and grilling your teen is not the right way of achieving open communication with them, but an earnest back-and-forth conversation is. Good communication with your teen starts with good listening. Moreover, good communication with your teen is the core of having a healthy and nourishing relationship with them.