The #1 Most Powerful Way to Improve Your Relationship With Your Teen
Are you looking for ways to improve your relationship with your teen?
The most powerful answer is simple. But it’s not as easy as it seems.
The #1 most powerful way to improve your relationship with your teen is to listen to them. And, to listen more than you do anything else.
How often have you heard your child say, “You’re not listening to me!”
Communication is about talking, yet we often leave out the listening part.
It was once said, “There is a reason we were designed with two ears and one mouth.”
Listening is the gateway to your child’s heart because you are giving them what they desperately need.
Here are 7 powerful ways to listen to your teen:
If you want your teen to open up and talk to you, you need to learn to listen. Listening is an art. We’re well trained in talking, but when was the last time anyone taught you to listen?
Listening isn’t as natural or as easy as it seems, especially when your teen may say something that’s hard to hear. Listening to our children takes time, patience and self-control.
The more you practice the easier it becomes.
2. Be quiet.
Stop what you’re doing.
Take a deep breath.
And be quiet.
What often happens when our teens talk to us is we offer well-meaning advice that they never asked for.
Our intentions are good; we want to help make life better for them. But it’s not what they want or need in that moment. If they wanted our opinion they’d ask.
Next time this happens, just be quiet. Trust they will figure it out and listen instead.
3. Listen to the words that aren’t being said.
When we’re truly listening, we tune in not only to what they’re saying, but to what they’re not saying.
Pay attention to their body language and facial expressions. Do they look sad, angry, or happy?
Reflect on what you observe, “You look down.” Or, “You look frustrated.”
You don’t need to say anything else. Just wait to hear what they say in response.
4. Reflect what you hear them say.
When your teen comes home from school complaining about a friend or a teacher. Try this –
Reflect back their feelings – “I hear you’re angry”. “You seem hurt” (say nothing).
Repeat their words back to them as closely as you can.
“Mr. Brown gave you a ‘C’ on your paper that you didn’t feel like you deserved.”
“Sheila talked behind your back to Nancy.”
(Say nothing. Wait for their response.)
Sounds pretty remedial but it works. Trust me and just try it. Keep it short and simple.
When you don’t know what to say, a simple, “Tell me more,” or a “Hmmm,” goes a long way.
5. Understand their deeper needs.
Our adolescents are searching for validation in many places that often leave them feeling “less than.”
I overheard my daughter and her friend comparing a similar picture they posted on Instagram. One of them got 100 likes, the other 250.
Who do you think felt valued more?
Our kids spend time counting and comparing their number of likes.
What they are really saying is, “See me. Value me.” Each of them is secretly asking a similar question, “Do I matter? Is who I am okay?”
At the very core of their being, they want to know that who they are matters and that they have significant worth and value.
6. Understand the power of listening.
Listening is powerful. Listening to our teens gives them what they are so hungry for – the validation that who they are matters.
Nothing conveys that you love your teen more than listening. Be curious to know them. Ask questions. If you do this more than anything else they will know they matter and have significant worth and value.Nothing conveys that you love your teen more than listening. Be curious to know them. Ask questions.Click To Tweet
7. Understand the calming effect listening has.
Moms, we know how often we don’t want anyone to say anything when we’re talking; we just need to process our thoughts out loud. Remember – this is what our kids need from us too.
Listening to them lessens their anxiety.
Allow them to express when they’re upset.
Don’t shut them down by trying to get them to feel less upset.
We all need to get out our feelings. Getting rid of our upset feelings actually lessens their intensity and restores us to calm. This is important to remember the next time your teenager throws a fit.
In today’s culture, our teens are yearning like never before to be heard. Most are trying desperately to figure out who they are in a self-consumed world that’s often filled with noise and countless conflicting messages. A world that, much of the time, isn’t listening.
The #1 most powerful way to improve your relationship with your teen is to create a safe place for them to talk and express themselves.
When you listen first, you might be surprised by how much they open up and how your relationship improves. They will become less dependent on counting their “likes” to measure they matter, and instead, they will experience a greater sense of acceptance, their own significance and self-worth.
Yes, listening is that powerful. I would love to hear how it makes a difference in your relationship when you try it!