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Active listening

Active listening can encourage the other person to talk and express their feelings. Some of the main tips are:

1) Ask open questions

This means questions that don’t have a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer, questions that start with ‘how’, ‘when’, ‘what’, ‘who’ or ‘why’.

2) Summarise

Summarise what you have understood: “So you’re saying that you feel like an outsider when everyone else but you is drinking?”

3) Reflect

Just repeating a word or phrase can encourage them to carry on talking: “Yes, it’s difficult.”

4) Clarify

Ask for more details: “Tell me more about that”, “How exactly did that happen?”

5) Give words of encouragement

“Go on”, “Ah, I see”.

6) Leave quiet moments

Don’t feel you have to fill the silence. Staying quiet while keeping your attention on them can encourage them to say something else.

7) React

Show that you’ve understood how they are feeling: “That’s really hard”, “It must be very difficult to cope with that”.

8) Use non-verbal encouragement

Smiling, responding to their feelings with facial expressions or mirroring their facial expressions and keeping eye contact shows that they have your full attention.

For practical advice to help you communicate with your child about alcohol and other drugs including your guide to resilient children and teenagers order your copy of 'Alcohol and Drugs: A Parent's Guide' today or download it here

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