Parenting is a tough job. It's REALLY tough right now. The changes brought on by the pandemic are wreaking havoc on our kids. It seems to be especially hard on them because isolation is being imposed at the same time they are biologically primed to start seeking independence. It's having a devasting effect.
As their parent, you want to help. Many of you well-meaning parents may find yourselves trying to "fix" the situation by telling your kids what to think, feel or do by lecturing or telling endless stories. Or maybe you are asking them questions, but to them, it feels more like an interrogation with machine gun-type questioning. The result, in either case, is the child clams up and they clam up...tight!
One of the best ways you can support them through these and other difficult times is to have open lines of communication that will allow your child to open up to you so you can help them to talk about and deal with their feelings.
The best advice I can give is to learn to listen. REALLY listen. This is accomplished with active listening. Listening in this way can be a powerful tool. It results in your child learning how to express and handle their emotions. This teaches them to be independent and resilient. It also builds a positive relationship with your teenage child through better communication and respect.
So what is Active listening? This type of listening is done with intention and focus to understand the teenager's point of view, using body language, questions, and non-judgmental feedback.
Here are some techniques to actively listen:
All the parents of the kids I work with are well-meaning and are trying hard to do the right thing for their children. Sometimes we develop bad habits or let our own emotions get in the way of doing what's best.
By learning and using active listening techniques, you can strengthen your communication and improve your relationship with your child. This is because active listening shows your child that you care, are interested and are helping them to become strong independent adults that can figure things out on their own.
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