For example, if your child comes to you and tells you he/she got into an argument with their friend at school, you may want to say something like “Don’t worry, I’m sure it’ll blow over by tomorrow”, but first, take a pause and reflect on what your child just told you and how they are feeling. Changing the language to something more like “Oh my goodness, I understand how awful this must be for you, would you like to talk more about it?” will let your child know that you are actually listening to what they are saying and that you understand just how painful this is for them and are interested in talking to them more about the subject if they need. This language allows you to come from a “judgment free” space, and will open up an avenue for better communication. When your child feels that you do not understand their feelings, it becomes less likely that they will open up and delve into deeper conversation.
Next time your child comes to you and shares something personal, give this a try—you will probably be amazed at what conversations could open up for the two of you and the trust that is built in the process.