When you listen actively, you are fully engaged and immersed in what your child is saying to you.
Actively listening is a skill that requires a bit of practice, but it is highly effective in helping you have meaningful conversations with your child at any age.
Giving your full attention to what your child is saying will help them feel heard and valued. It is a technique that will help you build the foundation for successful conversations with your children as they grow.
Below are some examples of how you can exercise active listening with your pre-teen or teen.
Try asking open-ended questions.
These are questions that elicit more than just a “yes” or “no” response from your teen. Try: “Tell me more about it…”, “What do you think about…”
Find the positives in a situation, no matter how hard it may seem. Try: “Thank you for your honesty. I really appreciate it.”
Let your child know you hear them.
Reflect back on what you are hearing from your teen—either verbatim or just the sentiment. You don’t have to agree with what is being said, you are simply making sure that your teen knows he/she is being heard. Try: “I’m hearing that you feel overwhelmed and that smoking pot relaxes you. Is that right?”
Sum up and ask questions.
Show them you’re listening to them the entire time and ask for their input. Try: “Did I get everything? Do you have anything more to add?”
Ask your teen if it’s okay to speak with him or her about their concerns and whether it’s okay that you offer some feedback. Try: “Are you okay with me asking you this? Do you mind if I give you some advice?”
Offer empathy and compassion.
Insert understanding and show your teen you get it. Try: “I hear that smoking pot helps your anxiety. I’m sorry you’re feeling anxious, I know that’s a really difficult feeling. Can we think of some other activities that can help you relax?”