When working with my teen clients on communicating with their parents, we discuss a few key points: 1. How effective communication can work in their favor 2. What effective communication looks like 3. How to approach certain topics with a parent. We also do a fair amount of role play on specific scenarios.
My teen clients also share with me the specific roadblocks that keep them from communicating more often with parents. The most frequent roadblock they share is:
Upon digging, this is what it boils down to…
A vast majority of the time, teens just want to be heard, listened to. They want to be given the floor to tell their story, explain their thoughts and feelings, and simply pour it all out.
So what’s getting in the way? The problem solving.
Most often, with supportive intentions, we skip past 2 very important steps that keep our teens from opening up further and coming back again to share more. These first 2 steps are: 1. Listening without response, solutions or distraction and 2. Validating their feelings.
Dr. Lisa Damour, author of her latest book: The Emotional Lives of Teenagers, outlines how to address your teenager when they come to you with an emotional upset, concern or simply want to talk. Her first 2 steps include listening and validating their feelings, followed by paraphrasing and inquiring.
All too often we jump in with a solution. In our grownup defense, we do this from a place of love and protection. We have solutions and ideas because we’ve been down their road before and we have life experience that’s given us clarity. What young soul wouldn’t want this wisdom from you? Slowing it down, listening by just simply listening and following up by validating their feelings opens the door for our teenagers to feel like we adults “get it” and truly hear them.
I hope this insight from inside the life coaching practice was helpful. And I hope that Dr. Damour’s steps provide a mental framework for your next listening encounter with your teenager. Often the solution is much gentler and simpler than it seems at the moment. ❤️
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