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Monday, January 28, 2013

Teen Health: Listen First


Learning how to simply take your time and listen to your teen is a valuable skill every parent should have in their arsenal.  Read about this and more  (Part 1, Part 2, & Part 3) in our Teen Health series from Kim Seidel, writer-editor for Seidel Ink, LLC, and mother of a teen and a tween.

Your teen has plans, and you immediately say “no.” Then your daughter rolls her eyes at you and sighs loudly. Your skin starts to prickle, and your heart beats faster. An argument is coming quickly, and
you’ve already had a long day.

But by listening more and delaying your decisions, you can have a more effective approach to talking with your teen.

Listening is an important component of keeping communication lines open, says Cindy Ericksen, a family and marriage therapist. When your teen asks for your permission, don’t jump to “no” too soon. Even though you may not approve of their plans, allow your teen to share her ideas with you.

“Just because you’re listening to your teen does not mean that you’re agreeing with her. It will be easier for her to hear ‘no’ for an answer, if she knows you have heard her out before you made your decision,” Ericksen says. “Arguments often start because a child feels they’re not being listened to.”

Take your time. After listening to a request, a parent doesn’t need to give an answer right away, Ericksen says. If it’s a not a last-minute request, tell your teen you need a day or two to think about it, and you will discuss the situation more at that time.
Even for those moments when your teen urgently seeks your approval, you can take a pause and take a deep breath before you respond calmly and confidently.

“Parents often forget that they’re the boss,” Ericksen says. “They can walk away from arguments and postpone making decisions until they are ready.”

Once you have made a decision, it’s important to stick with it, Ericksen says. Be kind but firm about declining your teen’s request. Show your respect and acknowledge her disappointment.

Photo Source: ThinkProgress

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