Shut Up And Listen!

parent's of athletes Mar 12, 2021

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:

  1. DON'T FIX    This technique is not about solving their problems.  This is about helping them to be heard and listening to their challenges.
  2. Face your child and remove as many distractions as possible. Do not cross your arms. 
  3. Look for feeling words.  When they say something like “that really frustrates me”, key in on the word frustrates and encourage them to elaborate.
  4. Reflection. State back the facts, feelings, challenges, needs, and hopes in your own words.
  5. Ask open-ended questions that encourage further exploration of their thoughts and beliefs. Examples: What happened at school today? How do you feel when that happens? How did you make that choice?
  6. Do not judge or discount their beliefs or  idea’s.                                                                    
  7. Do not interrupt.  This is their journey, not yours.                                               
  8. Parroting. When they say “I hate it when she does that” you respond by saying  “hate” with a questioning tone.  
  9. Demonstrate empathy.  Empathizing does not mean you have to agree with them.  It means that you are not dismissing their point of view.  
  10. Know when to stop using active listening.  It is not dialogue like a conversation. It is a tool. Know when it's time to simply be quiet. 

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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