Listening is a crucial part of effective communication with your defiant child or teen. This all important parenting skill must be valued and consistently practiced. Listening shows defiant children and teens that parents care and are interested in what they are feeling and have to say. The more you can powerfully listen to your child, the less likely he or she will speak to you through defiant behavior. Below are some helpful ways to become a better listener:
Make caring eye contact.
When it comes to listening, your eyes count almost as much as your ears. You eyes are a very powerful cue to your child that shows you are interested. If you make little eye contact, your child gets the opposite message—that you are not interested in what she’s saying. When making eye contact, be mindful of being non-threatening and supportive in your demeanor.
When your child expresses a desire to talk or seems open to talking, support him by giving him your full focus. Put aside what you were doing, face your child, and give him your undivided attention. If, for example, you continue to listen to your voicemail, wash the dishes, read the paper, or watch television while your child is trying to communicate with you, he may get the message that you aren’t interested in what he has to say. Or he may internalize the belief that what he has to say is not important. If your child expresses a desire to talk at a time that you are not able to, plan a time with your child to talk later on.