3 Listening Skills to Help You Support Your
Teenager With Depression
It can be very difficult to watch your teenager go through difficult times, especially go through depression! All you want to do is take away their pain and make them happy again. Advice giving can be the quickest way to help your teenager make healthy changes to their life BUT to really support your teenager I would suggest listening rather than advice giving. It may be difficult to talk about the pain your teenager is going through but, in doing so, it allows them to talk about their issues and what they’re going through… getting support… rather than being cut off with parents suggesting advice.
Below are the top 3 listening skills that will help you become a better at supporting your teenager!
In counselling circles we call this “active listening”. Basically, this means that you suspend your own thoughts and judgments and attend exclusively to the message of the other. That you try to understand the message in terms of your teenagers meanings and frames of reference. You can do this by “checking in” to make sure you understand what they’re saying correctly. Some examples are:
“So, what you’re saying is … ?”
“Just to make sure that I understand, what you’re telling me is …?”
“You mean that … ? “
Ask Open Ended Questions
When asked closed ended questions it can feel like an attack or like you’re being “grilled” as well as it only encourages short or single-word answers. BUT open ended questions can begin a conversation and help to elaborate and expand a point. For example, asking a closed ended question like “Do you like school?” will give you a one word answer such as “No”. But asking an open ended questions like “ What about school do you like? Do you not like?” will begin a conversation about school activities and your teenagers preferences. Asking open ended questions can be very easy to do, just remember to start your question with either of these words:
Validating acknowledges your teenagers right to their feelings. It reassures them that it’s okay to have the feelings they have and helps your teenager to not feel ashamed of themselves or the depression they are experiencing. For example, a great validating phrase is “That must be difficult. You have every right to be upset!”
To learn more about supporting other people check out this great wikiHow 🙂