As a therapist who sees teens, the number one complaint I hear is “My parents don't listen to me.” Attention, parents! Active listening is just that, and here is the definition: It is the conscious effort to hear, understand, and retain the information that is being relayed. The active listener is also giving that person their undivided attention. Your body language and eye contact will also support active listening.
Don't follow active listening with a lecture, a rebuttal, or telling them what they should feel or how they should try to fix it. Teenagers need to know they are heard. Instead, repeat back what you heard them say. Ask how you can support them. Don't make it about you. Don’t judge. Oftentimes, as parents, we miss the mark by not simply actively listening and the message being sent to your teen is what they have to say does not matter. Remember, at a later date, you can always communicate with them and provide feedback. The goal at that moment is to give them what they need, which is your attention.
Below you will find some other examples of actions and responses for your teen after a conversation:
Listen and show affection (hug, hold their hand, etc.)
Thank them for sharing and trusting you with the information
Ask what you can do to support them at this moment
Ask if they need some space
Offer or just take them out of the home for an outing
Ask if they want to visit a friend or family member
Suggest they bring this up in their therapy session
If you know of someone dealing with the same issue their age, ask if they would like to talk to them about the matter
Tell them that you love them and are there to listen if they need to revisit the topic later