It’s a common experience for teenagers and parents to have conflict around listening to each other and following through with parental requests.
For the past 30 years working as an adolescent therapist, I have noticed that teens stop listening to parents when they feel they are not being heard.
So, here are four steps to get your teen to listen.
Step 1: Have Protected Time
What I like to call Protected Time is quality time spent with your child. The focus is really offering yourself to your child while knowing that you as the parent will not bring up topics that generally create tension and conflict. Topics such as school performance, curfew or household chores.
This Protected Time may not be every day, but it’s important to create a routine where you are connecting a few times a week.
Step 2: Use Active Listening Skills
To use active listening skills you want everything besides your verbals to convey that you are paying attention.
A good starting point is putting your phone in a different room, turning off the television, and using eye contact.
It could also be helpful to get out of the house and do an activity together such as going out to eat or taking a walk in the park.
Step 3: Asking Clarifying Questions
Keeping your questions open-ended gives your teen the opportunity to share what it was like from their point of view.
For example, instead of asking, “How was your day?” or “Did you have a good day?”
Instead, try asking: “What was your favorite part of your school day today?” “What are you looking forward to your day tomorrow?”
Asking open-ended questions will contribute to them feeling understood, but more importantly, it will help you understand what it was like for them.
Step 4: Validate Your Teen’s Experience
Validation involves listening and indicating that you understand your teen’s perspective.
You don’t have to agree with their perspective or reaction. It’s important, however, to validate their experience.
A parent can say, “I get you. I understand why you feel that way.”
Statements like this will make the teen feel heard and understood. This will build trust over time.
So those are my 4 steps to help your teen listen to you. But more importantly, build trust and connection.
If you would like extra support improving communication and building trust with your teen reach out and schedule an appointment today.