By: Ida Welbourn
Being responsive as a parent/guardian is important for creating a safe and healthy relationship with your child/teenager. Here are some tips on becoming a good adult listener to your child/teen:
Give your child your full attention: When your child/teen is talking to you, make sure you are not distracted. Turn off the mobile/TV and focus on what they say.
Confirm that you heard what the child said: This can be done both in words, to summarize or repeat any of what the child says, or with body language, eye contact, nods, smiling.
View Empathy: Try to get into your child's/teenage situation and try to understand how they feel. Show that you care about what they say and that you want to help.
Show interest: Show that you are interested in what your child/teen has to say by asking questions, noding cooking or by repeating some of the most important words or phrases the child says.
Accept and respect their feelings: When your child/teen shares his feelings or opinions with you, accept them without criticizing or too quickly talking about what you think. This helps to create an environment where they feel comfortable talking to you.
Be open and non-judgmental: Let your child or teen feel comfortable opening up and talking to you about anything. Be open to their views and avoid judging or criticizing them.
Ask open questions: Instead of asking yes or no questions, try to ask open questions that can lead to more developed answers. For example, instead of asking "Did you have a good day at school?" Can you ask "What was the best and the worst thing about your day today?"
Listen actively: This means that you not only hear what your child/teen says, but also shows that you understand by repeating and summarizing what they have said. This shows that you really listen and try to understand.
View Patience: Sometimes it can take time for your child/teen to open up and talk to you. Be patient and give them time and space to talk. To make sure you understand what the child is saying, repeat or summarize what they said. This helps the child feel understood and listened to.
Encourage them to talk: Encourage your child/teen to talk about their feelings and experiences by showing that you are interested and that you care about what they have to say. Ask open follow -up questions, what happened then, how did it, how did it feel to you, what did you think about it, what do you think the other thought about it, what happened then. If the child's story is unclear, ask for specific information, who said so, when happened, where was you somewhere. This shows that you are trying to understand and keep up.
Avoid canceling or solving problems: If it is difficult you can quietly and slowly count to 10 within you. Sometimes they just want to talk and feel heard. Let your child/teen end their reasoning or history before you can ask if they would like to have suggestions for solutions or advice.
Be present: Sometimes it can be difficult to find time to talk to your child or teen. Try to find time every day or week where you can talk and spend time together without distractions.
Read more about why it is so important to listen to their child HERE