Creating Safe Space for Talking - Tip #3
Creating safe space for talking to teenagers is crucial to help with a myriad of challenges in their life. If you have read the first tip and some of the topics that a teenager may open up about, this one may not seem as obvious, yet it is one of the most important of all.
Tip #1 Stay calm
Tip #2 No judgement
Tip #3 Say thank you
If a teenager or young adults has finally put their trust in you, and opened up about anything that truly troubles them, whether you're a parent, teacher or manager, you should say thank you.
Thank them for putting their trust in you. They have shared their deepest fears or troubles with you and for that you should say "Thank you for trusting me."
By focusing on this tip, it make the first two tips easier for you to implement. It now gives you something to focus doing on and it raises their perception of your emotional intelligence, even if they have no clue what that is.
It is more natural for them trust someone further, who has just listened without judgment, and supported them in their most vulnerable moment.
Someone who has rushed them, forced them or ordered them to speak, huffed, rolled their eyes, reacted verbally or physically in any way, is going to validate that they were right to be afraid about speaking up. They will instantly internalise this - again without realising what they are doing - and they in turn will react with a meltdown, and outbreak of anger, or by shutting themselves in, emotionally and even physically by slamming doors or running away from the conversation.
This is not a time for them to be trying to understand emotional intelligence. This is time for you to use it, to help them make a start with emotional awareness first.
Let's look at a physical analogy of this situation: Ever noticed how when someone is frightened physically (let's run with movie style), their emotional cycle will take over and they will run - to find a place that is safe. Each danger or fear they encounter will keep them running.
You will only see them stop and break into tears of release, once they encounter someone to tell, about the danger they just escaped. Someone who can make them feel safe. Someone they feel they can trust.
Emotional safety is just the same except it's harder to see that they are running from something in their mind.
Hopefully now with these top tips for creating safe space, you can see things from their point of view, or reflect on a time when you wanted to tell someone about a problem and were afraid to. What did it take for you to open up? Was it someone who listened calmly, didn't judge, and thanked you for trusting them?
If there's one thing I've learned about being an Emotional Awareness Expert, it's that you don't have to teach any child, teenager or adult to want this - it's natural the world across.
Supporting someone else however, it is easy to overlook this and be unaware of the way our emotions naturally work. It is easy to get lost in our own emotions and reactions when faced with someone else's difficulties and judge them or shut them out.
This is why emotional awareness is a skill that is truly beneficial to parenting teenagers. This is what turns parenting into mentoring, and make you a trusted leader instead of a nagging parent, or just another teacher. Taking time to create that safe space could save a life.