Parenting is hard enough- add to that teenage children- and you have a complicated recipe to perfect! While most of us feel like we’re failing in our parenting no matter what we do, how we act and react shapes our children’s personalities as they grow up. We have compiled an excellent guide to help you maneuver your children’s teen years. Talking to the experts, we put together their advice on how you can effectively communicate with your teens.
Validate Their Feelings
Most teens think that parents don’t understand what they feel because of the generation gap. For most instances, it does happen. This is why we parents should learn how to listen and validate their feelings so that it won’t be hard for them to open up. Consider what they have to say before making any judgment because good communication requires both parties to have understanding.
Lucas Travis, Founder Inboard Skate
The teenage years are also called adolescence, marked by puberty changes, and can be a challenging time for the teenager and the guardian. Effective communication goes a long way and can make these years a little less challenging. Some tips are as follows :
Try to understand that their body is going through a lot of changes, and a lot of pressure kicks in from the surroundings. Recognize and respond to their feelings appropriately. Don’t be judgemental.
They need someone they can trust and rely upon. Try to be direct and honest while talking to them so that they don’t hesitate while sharing their feelings with you, positive or negative. Say what you mean.
Be Willing to Apologize
Power play should never come in between; all of us make mistakes, and accepting it can help you strengthen the bond and also help impart good values.
Be an Active Listener
Listen to them mindfully and with your full attention and show interest. Make them feel like they can talk to you because sometimes all they need is an ear to listen.
Small, genuine appreciation can do wonders for their self-esteem. Tell them you love them, so they know they’re never alone. Looking for opportunities to be positive can benefit the relationship in many ways.
Shagoon Maurya, Counseling Psychologist, Psychotherapist, Founder ursafespace.com
Keep in mind that your teen’s developmental stage will affect how they interpret your words, so the older your teens get, the more you’ll have to be mindful of their perspectives. When talking with them, try to use open-ended questions rather than direct commands. If you need to speak in a firm voice or share emotionally charged information, provide a space for them to respond and expect honest dialogue from them.
Avoid Labeling Teens As Kids Or Adults
Be aware that their views and opinions will change as they mature and acquire new experiences.
Your teen is most likely to listen and follow your lead when you’re calm and confident.
Share plenty of empathic communication, especially if your teen is upset or angry.
Be patient with your teen’s frustration and empathy needs, so they know you understand them without condoning their inappropriate behaviors or blaming them for what happened to others.
Katherine Brown, the Founder & Marketing Director Spyic
Start With Something That Interests Them
Ask them what they’ve been doing lately, what their friends are up to, or what they think about certain celebrities/politicians/celebrities, etc. This will make the conversation more interesting for them.
Be Sure To State Your Rules
As parents, we need to set boundaries for our children. This helps them to learn what is acceptable and what is not acceptable. While these boundaries are clear for us, they can sometimes be fuzzy when it comes to your children.
Don’t assume that they understand why you are saying no or that they do understand these rules by themselves or on their own accord. It is important to point out what you expect from them while making sure to do so calmly and respectfully. Remember, they are not your friend. They are your child, and you decide what direction they will go in their life.
Don’t Give Them The Silent Treatment
It may be tempting to stay away from your children when you are angry or upset with them, but this can do more harm than good. Give yourself the time to cool off before you approach them again. Give yourself a couple of days, and then talk to them in a calm, peaceful manner.
If they see your face light up when you talk to them, they will know that you are serious when you state your rules and boundaries. This can make them much more likely to respect these things in the future.
Lynda Fairly, Co-founder Numlooker
Spend Time In Their World
Ask them to share their favorite music, show, or YouTube channel, and talk about it! Be genuinely curious about what they are interested in.
Have Conversations That Are NOT Face-to-Face
This might sound counterintuitive, but it can be helpful to have important conversations with teens when you are NOT face-to-face. Try going for a walk together, riding bikes or shooting baskets, whatever they like to do. Teens will often open up when they have the space to do so and don’t feel cornered.
Don’t Try To Be Cool
Teens know their parents aren’t cool; just be yourself!
Be Their Parent, Not Their Friend
Anyone can be your teen’s friend, but you are the ONLY mom or dad they have. This means setting limits, saying no, and communicating clearly and directly about your expectations and concerns. You can be the parent and still have fun together!
Use Fewer Words!
The executive functions of the brain aren’t fully formed until age 25, so make it easy on them. Put your laundry in now; please work a lot better than a 45-minute lecture about responsibility.
Talk In The Car
Riding in the car is a great time to get teens to open up, especially if they are relaxed.
Ask Open-Ended And Specific Questions
Tell me about one funny thing that happened today that is likely to get more of a response than Did you have a good day?
Check Your Timing
When your teen just stormed up the stairs and slammed their door, they are not likely to be receptive to what you have to say. Try broaching the subject when they are open and engaged with you.
Listen To The Small Stuff
If you want your teen to open up about big stuff, you need to listen to the small stuff. The next time your teen wants to vent about something that doesn’t seem important to you, really listen. Ask questions. This will make it easier for them to open up when the big stuff happens.Michelle Risser is a Licensed Therapist (LISW-S) who specializes in working with teenagers; Choosing Therapy.