conversation encouragers and discouragers

In the process of googling something else, I stumbled upon a list of rather commonly used expressions that may come across as invalidating of someone's right to feel how they feel.

I'm sure many parents who say this type of thing have very good intentions. (Although some may be in such pain or confusion that they actually do intend to shut their kids down.) And since most of us are also very interested in having our children talk to us about their thoughts and feelings, I thought it might be helpful to know that even well-intentioned words can shut down the flow of communication.

If you want your teens to keep talking to you, try responding with statements that express your understanding of what they just said (empathy and reflection), or your willingness to hear more, rather than trying to shift their perspective or hand them a solution.

Here are some examples of conversation encouragers:

Wow, that sounds tough.
How is that for you?
What's your take on that?

I'm sorry you are hurting.
Sounds like you really didn't like that.

That felt really out of line to you.
Sounds like you wish that had never happened.

Mmm.
Silent nod with eye contact.
Ohhh.
Move closer and hug them or rub their shoulders.

Here are some examples of conversation discouragers:

Cheer up. Lighten up. Get over it.
Don't cry. Don't worry. Don't be sad.

Stop whining. Deal with it. Forget about it.
Stop complaining. Don't be so dramatic.
Don't be so sensitive. Don't take it so personally.

You've got it all wrong.
That is ridiculous.
I was only kidding.
That's not the way things are.

Well, I tried to help you.
You are making everyone else miserable.
It doesn't bother anyone else, why should it bother you?

It can't be that bad.
It's not worth getting that upset over.
You are over-reacting.

Can't you take a joke?
How can you let a little thing like that bother you?
Do you really think that crying about it is going to help anything?

You should be excited.
You should feel guilty.
You should feel thankful that ____.

You shouldn't let it bother you.
You should just forget about it.
You should feel ashamed of yourself.

You shouldn't say that.
You know that isn't true.
You don't mean that.

Don't you ever think of anyone but yourself?
What about my feelings?

Time heals all wounds.
Every cloud has a silver lining.

When you are older you will understand.
You are just going through a phase.

Although I don't endorse this guy's site, I do want to give him credit for the unedited version of the second list: http://eqi.org/invalid.htm#Note%20on%20Convo%20with%20Loz

For more information about Karen's parenting consultations, click here or visit http://www.karenalonge.com/

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