Who listens better: You or your kids?

therapy for parents and children

As a psychologist who has worked with kids, teens, and parents for 15 years there is one complaint both kids and parents lodge.  My (fill in the blank) doesn’t listen to me.  Kids and teens often feel as though their parents don’t listen and parents are frustrated that their kids don’t listen.  I hear these complaints whether the kids and parents have a good relationship or it is strained.  As adults, I think most of us can easily imagine the parental complaint, but can you picture the kid complaint?  What do kids and teens mean when they say their parents don’t listen??????  In this post, I would like to share with you what I have learned from your kids. who-listen-betters

  1. Many of the kids and teens I have had the pleasure of working with do not feel that their parents take an active interest in the things that interest and are important to them.  They may have activities that they enjoy as a family, but the activities, games, music, you name it that are important to the kid they do not feel the parent takes an interest in.  Why does this matter?  Often, in the mind of the kid, if the parent is interested in what they are interested in then that would show the parent wants to learn about them.
  2. Many of the kids I have worked with feel their parents discount their feelings. Of course parents don’t intentionally discount their kids’ feelings, so how does this happen? Often times this happens when a kid has a legitimate struggle with something, but their parent thinks they are just being willful or disobedient.  Your child may struggle to follow through on instructions you have given, seem moody and snappy, or resist doing homework.  I often give this analogy, “If you have a child who can’t swim, but you put a bowl of candy at the end of a pool and tell the child if they swim to the end of the pool they can have the candy, the child won’t swim to get it. If the kid can’t swim, they can’t swim.  It doesn’t matter how much they want the candy, it isn’t going to happen.”  Can your kid swim?  Are you sure…really sure????
  3. Don’t just try to fix it. As parents when our kids come to us with a difficult situation, we can easily jump into advice giving mode, but this is not always what our kids need from us.  Sometimes our kids just need us to listen.  Sometimes they need us to gently guide them through their own problem solving.  This is a great opportunity to help them learn their own problem solving skills, rather than have their problems solved for them.

It is so important for your kids to feel as though you listen well and are on their side in life.  When they feel this from you, they will want to share more of their life with you and let’s face it, you are a better advisor to your son or daughter than their friends.  In addition to talking with you more, they will feel a deeper sense of connection with you which usually means they will want to listen to you more (always a good thing!

If you need or your child needs support in this area, please call us at 720-583-9332 and we will connect you with a counselor.

Written By Dr. Steffanie Stecker


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