Most parents often find that one of the biggest challenges of parenthood is communicating with a teenager. It often feels that there exist very few ways to get a teen to open up or to fully engage in a conversation. Bordering on the verge of leaving childhood behind, yet not being able to claim full adulthood, teens are frequently confused about who they are and who they are perceived to be. Communication with teens can be a figurative landmine, as no one really knows what subjects to avoid and which ones to simply sidestep. Here are a few helpful tips for communicating with your teenage child and getting them to feel comfortable speaking with you again:
- Listen. Sometimes the best way to get through to your team is to simply listen. Really listen, and resist the urge to give advice or to lecture.
- Save the judgment. No one likes to feel that what they need to talk about is going to be judged. Try your best to not let your teen feel your judgment.
- Encourage critical thinking. Instead of offering advice for a problem, ask your teen what they think they should do and help them work out a solution that they feel comfortable with. Step back and let them work things out with your support.
- Ask them for help. Turn the tables around by asking your teen for their opinion once-in-awhile. Let them believe that their growing base of knowledge is valuable and that you trust that they have skills that they, themselves, can rely on.
- Don’t pry. There comes a certain time when you’ll not need to know everything regarding your teen’s life. They are growing up and need to establish more independence. Though you still need to keep your teens happy and safe, remember that there are things that you actually don’t want to know. Let your teen believe that you trust them by not drilling them for more information than they feel comfortable indulging.
As a licensed and educated family therapist, I believe that the miscommunication is not only the teenager’s responsibility to overcome, but it is the parent’s as well. As a teen psychologist, I work from both ends, guiding you towards the confidence you need to parent while guiding your teen toward the confidence they need to grow as a person.