The Teen Years

How to REALLY Listen to Your Teen



How to REALLY Listen to Your Teen


Marriage and family counselor, Mohamed Wadeed, explains the five types of listening. When listening to your teen always aim for number 5, empathic and active listening!


1. Ignoring:  “The teen knows this, so he starts to get your attention by being stubborn, by acting weird, by being rebellious. Because your dynamic is: ‘I’m not going to listen to you,’ he is doing this. So you need to change,” Wadeed explains. Teens need to feel our support and a sense of belonging with us, otherwise they will turn to their peers. “By not listening to teens, you are rejecting them and indirectly giving them an excuse or the motive to belong to the others,” says Wadeed.

2. Pretend listening: Your teen is talking. Your reply is a repetitive, “Hmm, hmm, yeah, okay,” but you are not really listening. “Sometimes parents are so busy with their lives, with their Internet, with their phone calls, even with their TV shows, they listen to their kids with no quality listening,” says Wadeed. Your teen knows you didn’t really hear or understand anything

3. Selective listening: You only pretend to listen until you hear something that catches your attention, like the word “boyfriend,” then all of a sudden you start paying real attention. This isn’t good enough. You need to listen to the whole conversation to understand your teen. “She may have been telling you about her friend who was going to have a boyfriend… Because you select what you listen to, you start to react without knowing what she was telling you,” explains Wadeed. “As long as you are still in your agenda, you are not with your teen.”

4. Attentive listening: In this style, Wadeed explains, “People listen with the intent to reply or give advice or to think of how to solve the problem. You are paying attention, but you are not in [your teen’s] shoes yet. That means that half of your mind is occupied with thinking, so you are not getting the [full picture].”

5. Empathic and active listening: You give your teen your full attention, listening to understand how he or she feels. You ask questions to see how your teen feels. You create an environment of support and trust for your teen to talk to you. You don’t have to agree with your teen’s opinions or actions, but you always show approval for him or her as a person.

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Mohamed Wadeed

Mohamed Wadeed is a marriage and family counselor with an M.A. in mental health counseling from Rhode Island College, USA and an M.A. in philosophy from Cairo University, Egypt. He provides a variety of counseling services.

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