While it can be uncomfortable to sit there while someone is expressing their negative feelings, simply sitting with someone and listening to their sadness, their fear, their frustration all their anger has the capacity to build a stronger bond between you.
It’s important to remember we are all individuals and different situations require different responses. We all have different preferences and different things that make us feel heard, cared about and loved.
Below are a few examples that may help meet the needs of some people. Keep in mind you might need to adapt these depending on who you’re talking to.
- Oh wow sounds horrible
- I can see why you feel that way
- That sounds so frustrating/annoying/ infuriating
- That would make me feel sad/hurt/frustrated too
- No wonder you’re upset
- Saying nothing, just sitting with them and allowing them to be
- Share your own reactions: ‘’I’m so sorry’’, ‘’I’m so angry’’ , ‘’ I feel so helpless I wish there was something I could do’’ or ‘’ I don’t even know what to say I’m just so glad you told me’’
Why this is important for kids and teens.
Listening with empathy is a skill that’s beneficial in all their interactions not just those with children and adolescents. Children and adolescents are still developing an understanding of what their emotions are and how to express them. Children depend on parents and other adults in their life to assist them to identify, name and regulate their emotions. As they develop they observe through their interactions with adults what’s ok to talk about and what isn’t.
So when do I seek help?
If your child has challenges in multiple areas of their life such as school, hobbies, friendships and or family relationships or if you notice changes such as withdrawal, anxiousness, sadness that last for a couple of weeks. It could be a sign that they need some additional support.
Trust your gut.
If something just doesn’t feel right, trust that instinct. You know your child best and it’s better to get something checked out if you’re not sure.