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Attentive listening helps teens open up

Attentive listening helps teens open up

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Engaged listening techniques such as eye contact, nodding and using keywords to praise openness helps teenagers when they admit bad behaviour and share hurt feelings with their parents, a new study has shown.

University of Reading and Haifa researchers asked 1001 13 to 16-year-olds to watch a staged conversation between a parent and teenager about a difficult situation, with the parent adopting different body language and listening behaviour in different versions.

The participants who watched the versions where the parent was visibly attentive stated that they would have felt better about themselves as the teenager and would be more likely to open up about their feelings again in the future.

Dr Netta Weinstein, associate professor in clinical and social psychology at the University of Reading, who co-led the study, said: "We all know that listening to someone talk about their problems is an effective way of reassuring them and establishing a connection.

However, until now there has been little thought given to the quality of that listening, and the difference that makes." "This study shows that in parent-teenager relationships, quietly listening to a teenager while showing them they are valued and appreciated for their honesty has a powerful effect on their willingness to open up." The study was published in the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology.

The team found that active listening was equally important across all participants. The participants although we don't know how often the expectations meets reality, but it's clear that active listening is more likely to lead to a good outcome for teenagers than the more passive style we tested it against. ANI

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