It’s no secret that young adults don’t like to share their feelings and secrets with parents or guardians all the time, and while some things are innocent and harmless, other issues can be far more damaging and cause for concern. While some teenager’s experiences may be more challenging than others, it’s important to know how to communicate effectively with your teenage children, or the teens you might care for at work or home.
In a world where online bullying and depression in young adults are higher than ever, you must be able to actively listen to those in your care to make sure they are getting the right support. Here are some tips on how you can improve your active listening.
They might tell you that they’re ‘ok’, or that school was ‘fine’, but do the words appear to match their body language? The latter can tell you a lot about how a person is truly feeling, which is why it’s essential to pay attention to these tell-tale signs. For example, do they make eye contact with you when they speak? Are they turning away from you? Do they seem to be tense or fidgeting? All of these can be indicators of discomfort, stress, and anxiety.
You should also consider how your body language is coming across to them in your conversations — make sure you’re open, that you make eye contact, and that you offer physical support like a hug or an arm around the shoulder to help them feel protected and supported.
Another good way to make sure you’re actively listening and showing that to the teenagers in your care is by asking questions. However, don’t make them feel as though you’re interrogating them as this will likely make them feel defensive or they could shut down the conversation.
If they are opening up to you about a difficult situation that they’re facing or confiding in you about their struggles with certain emotions, they must know they’re not being judged. Make sure the questions you ask are open-ended as this will help the conversation flow more naturally and comfortably. If your conversations leave you feeling concerned over their mental well-being, consider looking into teen mental health treatment centers for more advice and support.
Look at Their Perspective
As an adult, it’s easy to assume that you know what a teenager is going through because you may have had similar experiences in your younger years, but you should never assume this. The reality is that people react to situations in different ways. So, even if you did have an almost identical experience as a teen dealing with a bully, the way you reacted and coped with that situation could be entirely different for this young teen in your care now.
Rather than jumping in and telling them how you think they should deal with a situation or feel about something, take a moment to put yourself in their shoes and listen to how they are telling you it makes them feel. Understanding their perspective will enable you to help them more effectively in the long run.
To communicate more effectively and connect with the teenagers you care for, use these active listening tips to help.