As a professional counselor, I do my best to first understand then to teach.
As a parent, I do my best to mirror this behavior.
In school, we are educated on how to write, read and speak. When it comes to the skill of listening, we often lack the educational background. Consider in your life. How many hours of study do you have dedicated to listening? To genuinely listening to others?
Listening is an extremely difficult skill to master. It requires that one put aside their lecturing focus and intently focus on what the other person is saying, feeling, and presenting. It requires that one does not think of what they want to say while the other person is speaking. It requires practicing empathy while listening. Listening is in my opinion, one of the most important skills that parents can acquire to building a healthy lasting relationship with their teen or child.
Below are 6 ways that parents can practice listening while building a healthy connection with their teen.
When listening to your teen, do your best to focus on what your teen is saying. Actively practice being genuine and reflective instead of focusing on what lecture should be given.
Help your teen understand that you are not here to judge but to listen. Teens then to reduce communication and interaction with their parents when they feel that each conversation will lead to some sort of judgement.
Reduce power assertive statements. These include “do it because I said so” or “I’m your parent and that’s why you need to do it”. Statements like these lack respect, connection, and emotion.
Defense is not always appropriate in conversations. Do your best to reduce accusations or to attack your teen. I find that most people retreat from conversations when they feel blame, accusation or a sense of being attacked.
Play the role of the adult parent. When parents take on the lead of a friend the line of connection and communication becomes blurred. Boundaries are negatively impacted. Make it a point to present yourself (parent) as the adult in the relationship.
Understanding perspectives. Part of empathy means understanding the feelings of others. To establish a genuine connection with your teen, it’s vital to remember what it is like to be your teen. Not a teenager. But your teen. Address the conversation with concern, trust, respect and emotion.
I think most teens, desire to have a healthy line of communication with their parent(s). What tends to happen is that conversations filled with accusation, blame, attack, judgment, and lecture become all that is expected. If your teen expects this type of conversation then it’s safe and logical to say that their desire to engage in a healthy conversation with you will not be present.
My name is Juan Santos and I am professional counselor that works with Teens and Parents. I love helping teens overcome emotional difficulties focused around depression, anxiety and mood changes.