Tips and Advice For Communication With Your Teenager
Communicating with your teenager is no simple endeavor. It requires consistent effort and many attempts to get them to open up and talk to you. However, it is crucial to build trust and rapport and have healthy communication with any teenager.
But first things first, what does communication comprise of anyway? The simple answer is that it is a two-way exchange of information through any medium. Parents often struggle with this as we are often talking and not doing a lot of listening.
In this article we pin down some of the important steps to help you in communicating with your teenager. Get these right and you can have a happy and healthy relationship with them.
The Important Lessons For Communication With a Teenager
1. Keep Them In The Loop
There are many obstacles to parent-teenager communication. The one that tends to leap out far and above the rest is not involving them while making important decisions.
Parents often believe that their teenager is not ready to be involved in adult matters. However, in reality they are already making many adult decisions in their life.
Try asking your teenager’s opinion on subjects relevant to the household. Discuss basic finances, holiday ideas and destinations or even house rules regarding allowed activities and curfews. You’ll probably be surprised by the wisdom they bring to the table and you will enjoy some robust conversation.
Therefore, include them in some serious household discussions and increase the ability of communicating with your teenager.
2. Practice Reflective Listening
Instead of passively listening and nodding to your teenagers, try a more empathetic approach.
When they tell you they’ve had a bad day do you shrug them off? Do you just nod with a lips-pulled-down expression? Or do you tell them you had a bad day as well? If you are doing any of these, you will more likely struggle communicating with your teenager.
They want to be understood! They want engagement and empathy!
Next time they tell you about a bad day, sit with them for a while and talk it through. Ask what happened and take the time to truly listen. Understand their situation without being judgemental. Observe their gestures, tone and facial expressions.
Pay attention to every detail and listen carefully as communication with a teenager is not always verbal. Allow them to feel heard and understood and they will definitely be back for more.
3. Communicating With Your Teenager Means Using The Right Words
Does our language have a direct effect on us? Definitely! Using the right words can transform our reality. Similarly, using some different words can help a lot in communicating with your teenager as well.
Researchers have found that using positive words such as “love” and “gratitude” can change a function of the parietal lobe in the brain. This function is about how we view ourselves and others.
Consequently, encouragement and positive language can impact not only how your teen sees themselves, but also how they see others. When they see themselves in a positive light they are more likely to view others the same way.
When you say negative words or phrases like “don’t do this”, “stop” and “no” it activates the fear response. This causes an increase in stress hormones and can drastically impact your communication with your teenager.
There are multiple alternative ways to communicate without using negative language. Be mindful of your choice of words and leave a positive impact on any communication, but especially with a teenager.
4. Non-verbal Communication With A Teenager
Several studies show that 70-80% of communication is non-verbal yet parents are mostly concerned with solely verbal. Non-verbal communication consists of body posture, gestures, eye contact, touch, voice tone and facial expression.
So, how are you supposed to be communicating with your teenager non-verbally? Well, knowingly or unknowingly, you are already doing that.
When your teen is leaving for school in the morning, do you see him off with a happy face or no expression? If they have done something good, do you praise them with a thumbs up or hug or just watch with hands behind your back? When they make a mistake, do you give them a reassuring pat or frown at them? When they are crying and don’t want to talk, do you give them a shoulder to cry on or roll your eyes and leave?
These little non-verbal cues count for a lot of communication with a teenager. If they are sensing negative non-verbal cues they are more likely to maintain their distance. If this is for a sustained period they may well completely cut off communication.
5. Parent-teenager Communication Activities
Here are some great activities that you can do in order to enhance your communication with a teenager.
- Slang language – What’s better than being able to communicate with them in their own language? Take some time to learn those ever-evolving dialects that are commonly used among teens. Maybe even ask your teen what they mean so you drop them in every now and then – not too often as you don’t want to be embarrassing! It will definitely help your efforts in communicating with your teenager.
- Sports – Participate in their favorite sports with them, even if it is just from the sidelines. If you are particularly sporty yourself there may be a social competition you could both try. When you start to take an interest they’ll be happy to teach you about the rules, guidelines, and any tips and tricks of the game.
- Long drives and lunch dates – There are no interruptions during long drives and lunch dates. Use this time to communicate with your teenager to talk about important matters or just general stuff.
Teenagers are going through a hugely transitional phase in their life. They might be dealing with identity confusion, hormonal issues or even mental health issues.
Any of these can hinder your communication with a teenager. Therefore, you need to be mindful and understanding. You need to empathize with them and see the world from their perspective.
Communicating with your teenager might seem hard but with a little effort, it will get easier and is very well worth it.
We have more articles on teenagers to help your parenting journey.
Check out our article Teenage Drinking Is Worse In Bored Teenagers.
With an educational background Alana loves the science behind child development. Her passion is the way in which children learn and grow. After an accident that ended her career as a teacher she has dedicated herself to studying child development. She has been learning styles to help influence teachers with the needs of different children. She hopes to one day have a big impact in this space and we are so lucky to have her as part of our writing team. Alana is mum to 3 young adults and loves being a big part in their life.