Parenting a teen may be the most frustrating part of raising children. Many think the midnight feedings, diaper changing, and terrible two’s are hard to get through – but once you’ve had a teenager, you know that those early years are actually the best of times in comparison to what’s to come.
There are many ups and downs in the parent-child relationship, and communication is one of the most difficult aspects to manage. And effectively communicating with your teen can often feel like a dream goal that’s out of reach. It’s an extremely important piece of the puzzle – particularly when sensitive issues arise (i.e. sex, drugs, alcohol). It is critical that you remain at the forefront of communication with your teen; and achieve effective communication with your teen using these five tips.
1) Seek to understand. You should always approach communication with your teen from the aspect of seeking to understand. Teens often feel as though their parents have “made up their mind” and that communication is a losing battle. Make your teen aware that s/he always has a chance to be understood so they will be comfortable in your interactions.
2) Use a calm tone. It not what you say, it’s how you say it. Never has a phrase been truer than when you are communicating with your teen. If you use a calm, engaging tone, your teen is more likely to respond favorably. Raised voices – yelling and/or screaming – will not yield a positive outcome. Your teen will most likely retreat within and tune out the “noise.” Speak calmly and respectfully for a chance at being heard by your teen.
3) Show honest emotion. Allowing your teen feel your genuine emotion offers a rare opportunity to connect on a deeper level. Many of the parents I work with feel awkward about showing their vulnerability to their teens. But when you show honest emotion, your teen will see it. Your teen will feel it. And communication barriers will become obsolete as they feel more comfortable reciprocating and showing honest emotion to you in return.
4) Talk to your teen. Not at him/her. Communication is a two-way street so you really must go the extra mile to establish that firm ground and make your teen a part of the communication process. Ask how s/he feels. Validate and discuss his/her concerns or fears. And establish effectiveness through an open flow of communication.
5) Pay attention. The absolute best tip for effective communication with your teen is to truly know him/her. The only way to accomplish this is to pay attention. Know who their friends are, their teachers, their coursework, and their interests. When communicating with your teen from a place on the inside, it becomes much easier to connect and make an impact. Pay attention to your teen and know what they are dealing with or going through so you can be aware of any potential issues that are impacting their lives.
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