March 1, 2021

Tips to Effective Communication with Your Teen

Adolescence, or the teenage phase of your child’s life, is a rather exciting period as they explore and discover new things. During this phase, most teenagers tend to pull away from their parents and incline more towards their independence. This explains why they will act as if they are the center of the universe at times.

As a parent, your parenting responsibilities tend to get complicated as your child gets to this phase. This is when your teen starts making choices with real consequences such as friends, school, driving, sex, and substance use. The only problem is that teenagers are not good at regulating emotions, and they are therefore prone to making impulsive decisions and taking unnecessary risks.

During your children’s teenage years, it is important that you establish a healthy parent-child relationship with them. However, getting close to them at this time is a bit challenging because they will at times view it as parental interference. This is normal during this phase of life, and it will pass with time. Below are some tips on how you can successfully navigate through this new terrain with parent-teenager communication.

Listen to Your Child

If you really want to understand what is going on in your teenage child’s life, asking him or her directly might not be as effective as listening to them talk; tell their story. Teenagers feel more comfortable opening up to their parents when they don’t feel pressured to share.

You must listen intently to catch everything your teenager says. An offhand comment about something, for example, can be a way of reaching out. By showing interest in what your child has to say about his or her day, you are likely to hear about some of the issues affecting them.

Validating Their Feelings

Most parents attempt to help children cope with problems by downplaying their disappointments, but that’s not how it should be. If your teenager is facing an ugly breakup, for instance, a comment like “he was not right for you after all,” will feel dismissive.

Show the teenager that you understand and empathize with him/her through a comment that validates his/her feeling: “that must be tough” is a more rational comment. And let them work through those complex emotions and feelings while you are there for a shoulder to cry on.

Show Trust

Every teen wants to be taken seriously, especially by the parents. You should therefore look for ways to show them that you trust them. You could ask them for favors that show your trust in them. By volunteering a privilege, you are communicating to the teen that you think he/she can handle it.

Showing your kids that you have faith in them boosts their self-confidence, and encourages them to rise to the occasion.

Avoid Dictating

Although it is important to set rules for teenage children, you should also take the time to explain the rules to them. While teens are known to push boundaries, your thoughtful explanation on why attending late-night parties is prohibited will help make the rule reasonable, and they are more likely to oblige.

Praise Your Teens

It is common practice for parents to praise their kids when they are young and not during their teenage years. Adolescents require the self-esteem boost that comes with praises just as much now as when they were younger. While your teen might be acting as if he /she does not care about what you think about them, the truth is that they still need your approval.

Whenever your relationship is feeling strained, try looking for opportunities to encourage teenage communication. Remember to stay positive.

Controlling Your Emotions

Teens are known to be rude at times, and this could result in you losing your temper. Please avoid instances where you respond in an unkind manner towards your child’s irrational conduct.

Instead, get your emotions under control by understanding that you are the adult and the teen is less capable of controlling their emotions. They are taking their cue and learning responses from you; show them a positive example. You can put your emotions under check by taking the time or a deep breath before responding.

In instances where you are too upset to continue the conversation, hit the pause button, remove yourself from the situation and take time to calm down. Later, you’ll be better equipped to address the situation.

Try Doing Things Together

Talking is not the only form of parent-teenager communication. A different approach is looking for activities that you both enjoy and participating in those activities together. It could be watching movies, hiking, or cooking, without engaging in any personal conversation. 

This is a great teenager communication technique that shows your teen that he/she is in close proximity to you and should be free to share their experiences without worrying that you will ambush them with intrusive questions.

Sharing Meals Regularly

What other way to feel close as a family and talking to your teenager than during a family dinner? Dinner conversations are a great platform for everyone to open up and share their opinions about casual topics such as sports and television series.

When the teenager feels comfortable talking about everyday experiences with you, he/she is more likely to open up about pressing issues when they come up.

Be Very Observant

Teenagers face different challenges as they grow up, and they will often not speak about them. This is why it is important to pay close attention to their changes in behavior, energy levels, moods, appetite, and lack of communication. 

Take note when your child stops doing things that would excite them or when he/she starts isolating him/herself. When you see these changes in your child’s ability to function, raise the issue by talking to your teenager in a supportive manner without being judgmental.

These are signs that your child needs your help or the help of a mental health expert.

Parent-Teen Counseling Sessions

Once you have established that your child needs professional help, talk to him or her and make them understand why speaking to a professional is important. There are things you can help your child resolve, but there are others that are better addressed by a seasonal professional.

At other times, your child might feel shy to talk about what’s bothering them with you, and this could result in lack of communication. Do not push them to share with you. Instead, book an appointment with a teenagers’ therapist and leave the rest to the professionals.