Do you ever feel like communication with your teen is going no where? Have you ever wondered if your teen has a mom/dad filter that blocks out everything you say? You’re not alone. My favorite tip to help build better communication patterns with families (and couples) is using the acronym G.I.V.E.
“G” stands for Gentle. Be gentle in your tone and word choice when communicating to your teen. Remember, the intention is to get your teens to communicate with you, this means you need to communicate in a non-threatening/ non-judgmental tone.
“I” stands for Interested. Acting interested shows your teen that you are available, willing, and care about what they have to say. To do this you need to allow them time to speak without interruption. It is our natural tendency to jump in and “correct” someone when we disagree with what we’ve heard them say, but letting your teen finish communicating their thought before you rush in will lead them to feel…
“V” stands for Validate. This is the most important part of G.I.V.E.! Validation simply involves you listening and responding without judgment or intention to “fix” the situation. To begin, paraphrase what your teen has just told you. This means you need to be listening to them and not thinking about your own response. Leave out any opinions or suggestions. You are simply in the information collection stage. Doing this will help put them at ease and reduce any defensiveness that may arise. Even though you many not agree with what they are saying, it is important to encourage them to verbalize their thoughts, feelings, wants, and needs. Do not make assumptions, but rather, ask for clarification. Try phrases like “What I’m hearing you say is…” This allows them the opportunity to clarify their thoughts, and give you more information
“E” stands for Easy Manner. Body language speaks volumes and it is important to make sure your facial expressions and body language are matching the rest of the GIVE model. Try to remain relaxed in your body posture and tone of voice. Avoid eye-rolling or crossing your arms because these sent the signal that you are disinterested and not validating their experience. Lastly, try to incorporate humor when you can to lighten the mood.
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