Communicating Effectively With Your Teen
How we communicate with others certainly has a significant impact on parent/child relationships, and teenagers, in particular, need parents that have put effort into developing their communication skills.
In order to build upon and improve the relationship with your teenager, parents should key in on some critical components of effective communication such as when to talk, when to listen, what tone of voice to use, etc. Communicative support is a critical developmental factor that adds to the well-being of all children, but it is especially important during the sometimes turbulent teenage years. Teens need their parents to develop the ability to support them with compassion and guide them with understanding.
A Transition for Parents and Teens Alike
During the teen years, adolescents are making a biological and psychological journey from childhood to adulthood that requires various adjustments to be made, but many parents don’t realize that they, also, are embarking on a similar journey. Just when you thought you had gotten your preferred parenting method down pat, you wake up one morning to find that it’s not working anymore. Your pre-teen that was responding quite well now seems angry and frustrated much of the time. You, as a parent, must begin the arduous work of adjusting your parenting style to benefit your teenager and that means adjusting your communication methods, as well. Small children and tweens must be told what do much of the time, but teens tend to resent this form of communication. And even though parents must make and enforce rules and teens must follow them, many times it is more advantageous for parents to convey their desires through the calm exchange of ideas and opinions rather than simply demanding, which rarely works with teens anyway.
One of the most common arguments between teenagers and parents is over rules. Of course, there is no getting around household rules and a good way to communicate rules is to simply list them on paper. Communicating rules by writing them down establishes them firmly by presenting them in concrete terms. Let your teen express their opinion about your rules or other rules and promote open discussion. Encourage your teen to explore their feelings behind why they agree or disagree with them. Remember, disagreeing with your rules doesn’t nullify them. You are simply providing a platform for your budding adult to have their say. Letting your teen openly convey their viewpoint lets them know that their opinion is important and that you care about where they stand on different issues. It also gives them a valuable lesson in how to disagree in a civil manner and how to be diplomatic in the face of differences.
Listen to Your Teen
Listening skills are an integral part of communication and your teen will be more apt to talk to you about problem situations if they believe that you are interested in what they have to say. Teens, in most cases, have not mastered the art of communication and will often use typical teen language when talking to their parents. Many parents mistakenly interpret brief phrases like, “I’m fine”, or “I don’t know” as an indication that teens don’t want to talk, when, in fact, it may be that your teen does not know exactly how to express their true feelings. Parents can help by asking open-ended questions and encouraging their teen to talk about their feelings, their disappointments, and their frustrations. Other common phrases include the classic, “whatever!”, or “you don’t understand me”. These expressions may indicate that your teen may feel that their views and opinions are unimportant and that they are not welcome to participate in matters that concern them. Parents should remember that listening to a teen’s input or opinion isn’t a sign of weak parenting. On the contrary, the ability to communicate with your teen lets them know that they can put their trust in a parent who cares about how they feel and that they can count on you to help them make it through a very difficult transition that is all part of the growing up process.