Evidence That It Works
In a study, teens between 13 and 16 years old were randomly assigned to watch video interactions between a teen describing feeling rejected or doing something wrong and their parents/caregivers listening either well (with empathy and non-judgment) or not (with apathy and judgment). The study found that teens anticipated feeling greater well-being when imagining self-disclosing to a parent/caregiver who listened with empathy and non-judgment compared to a parent/caregiver who listened with apathy and judgment.
Why Does It Matter?
Communicating with our teens can be challenging. When we express severe disappointment or lecture teens, this can lead them to feel inhibited about disclosing to us in the future because they are worried about a negative reaction.
On the other hand, listening to your teen with empathy and non-judgment can help nurture a sense of intimacy between you and a willingness to disclose to you again. When teens feel heard, they feel your support and validation, which can foster their well-being and improve your relationship.