As our daughters get older, the communication dynamic starts to change. Situations where we could once simply direct our daughter on what to do suddenly requires far more thought around how she might respond or feel about the conversation. As they hit the preteen and teenage years, our girls become less likely to share what is on their minds. They tend to lean to two extremes: very vocal opinions or no point of view at all.
The result? We realize that we need to know how to actively listen to what they are really trying to tell us. Understanding the messages they are want to convey when they say nothing at all is especially important.
Listen More; Speak Less
When we have a conversation with our daughter, the first instinct may be to offer advice on how to handle any given situation. However, listening more than we speak can yield an extensive range of benefits. Taking the time to listen demonstrates our respect for them as individuals and empowers them to participate in the problem solving process. Most importantly, effective listening skills can strengthen your relationship while giving you unparalleled insight into what is really going on in your daughter’s world (aka every parent’s dream!).
Like any other parenting skill, active listening requires practice and conditioning. It may even feel awkward at first. However, carefully following a few simple tips can help get a successful dialogue going with your daughter:
Four Tips To Better Listening
Give them their space: Feel like your daughter is holding something back from you? She very well could be; middle school is often a time when she is faced with new challenges. This can often directly translate into them not wanting to share every detail about their social lives with us for fear that we might want to do something about it. Giving her a little space can show that you respect her boundaries and can wait until she’s ready to share.
Encourage transparency: Our daughters will only honestly share with us if they feel like it’s safe to do so. How can you encourage transparency? Don’t immediately contradict her opinions or instantly judge/criticize her comments. Yes, sometimes this can prove a challenge. However, showing her that your conversations are “safe” will incite her to offer more information and details about what is really happening.
Create situations to connect: We all know specific situations where our girls just naturally feel more talkative. Think about a time that put your daughter most at ease and plan to get the conversation going. Family dinners or even game nights can offer an ideal forum for discussions on a wide range of topics.
Embrace open-ended questions: When you start a conversation, speak with purpose. Avoid yes/no questions as much as possible. Instead, focus on open-ending dialogue to really give your daughter the opportunity to express herself in her own unique way. Reassure her that you really care and want to know what is happening in her world.
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