Let’s explore how active listening can have the opposite effect on communication with your teen. It is important to keep in mind that the teen perception of a situation does not always involve the same rational thought processes as our adult one. That does not mean they are wrong.
We have to acknowledge and accept that a certain reaction is ‘warranted’ in their mind regardless to how ‘silly’ that might sound.
(News flash - they think the same about our thought processes as well! So don’t judge)
One of the key active listening skills is maintaining eye contact. In a teenage world, maintaining extended periods of eye contact can be interpreted as threatening and/or accusational. They will probably actively avoid it. I can assure you it does not always imply guilt or that they are hiding something.
It is linked to their heightened emotional reactions and social conditioning that teens are always in the wrong. Their brains are still developing remember! So, if they won’t look you in the eye, don’t jump to conclusions just yet.
Another active listening skill that can be a conversation ender is the act of verbally responding. Yes, seriously. More often than not, teens converse with parents to just verbalize something. They actually require no response. The mistake we parents make is to enthusiastically launch into what you hope would be an deep and meaningful conversation, only for it to end in teen staring blankly back at you and muttering a ‘wot eva’ leaving you wondering what you did wrong! Don't always assume they are seeking your opinion or your help.
Repeating what your teen just said mid conversation is meant to reiterate that you heard and understood what they have said. That’s good right? Actually not quite. It can throw their train of thought and the conversation could come to a halt, maybe to never continue. Or it could be met with a ‘didn't I just say that?’ which is pretty much confirming to the teen that you are not really listening or understanding what they are saying. End of conversation. (Insert door slam here). Reminder, you are not dealing with an adult here. Do not expect adult understanding just yet.