Are you really listening to your daughter?


Your daughter gets into the car after school and appears stressed. You ask "How was your day, honey?". She yells back at you "Awful!". Your initial reaction is to correct her loud tone, crush the negativity or go back at her with a yell. But instead you've read this and remember to take a deep b r e a t h and wait....After a few seconds she continues, "Naomi was just awful to me today. I was talking about Wayne at lunch and she said that she was facetiming with him last night! I just can't believe her, she knows I like him. She really betrayed me this time. I am never going to forgive her for this. And we're supposed to go to the concert next week! Ugghhhh!".

Interesting how just pausing allowed your daughter to continue to share on her own. And without interruptions! Way to go, Mom (and Dad)! Your urge may have been to jump in and share your own feelings "I never liked that Naomi, she has done these things in the past. Remember that time when..." Hold up, it is not about you or your thoughts right now! You want to create a calm and safe space for her to share her feelings. Keep in mind that 99% of the time teens don't want your opinions (or mine!). They've probably reminded you of this too.

With a teenager, you have most likely paved the road to help her problem solve. All of those days in elementary school when she would come home and tearfully tell you who hurt her feelings and you would share ideas about what she should do next? Yup, she's still 'em. Give her some space to figure it out because you will not be there to help her through these social struggles as she requires more and more space from you. Instead, stop talking and listen to your teen with the goal of learning the story. While she is talking quietly show support by focusing on her and using eye contact. Then if she hasn't talked about what she'll do next, my favorite question to get girls headed in the right direction is, "What would you like to do about that?". In this moment she will either start throwing around scenarios or she will go off and consider this question on her own. When you don't respond with your own hurt feelings, you empower her to feel like she can solve these problems on her own. That is the goal afterall, isn't it?

So the next time you find yourself in this situation, try to really listen and see what happens. You got this!

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