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6 Ways to Communicate with Your Teen

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As a mom or dad how many times have you wished that we had a manual for raising our children??  I know that I probably wouldn’t have made as many mistakes as I did and I know the task would have been much easier for us.  Facing the teenage years with your son or daughter is not something most parents look forward to. Hopefully, this article will help you take the experience of raising a teen one day at a time and show you how to bridge the communication gap that we all experience and know that we all have or will go through the same thing. It really is possible to understand your teen!

As your child goes from toddler to youngster to tween to teenager, something in what you say gets lost in translation. They can give you that blank stare as if the words that are coming out of your mouth sound like the unseen teacher in the Charlie Brown cartoons and they don’t understand anything.

It’s not easy to improve communication with a teen but it’s important to try to get through to them as these years and the choices they make now will have a vital impact on their future and they will be grown before you know it.

Here are just a a few tips to help you get started:

1. Watch your body language.

How you move says a lot about you.  When a person is tired hey tend to slump. When angered, your jaw muscles tighten and your eyes narrow into slits. Believe it or not, teenagers are good at interpreting body language. Yours will betray you when you are talking to them. Keep it open and honest. Avoid sitting with your arms crossed, eyes looking away from them or squirming in your seat.

2. Make eye contact.

When you don’t look at the person you are talking to it says that you are either hiding something or you are not at all interested in what they have to say. Your teenager will shut down emotionally when they suspect that you are not tuned into them.  Make sure to sit comfortably and give your teen undivided attention with consistent eye contact. It lets them know that you care.

3. Keep your emotions in check.

Remember back to when you were a teenager and some of the things you said to your parents were aimed at freaking them out.  Teenagers will push your buttons if they can.  Don’t go overboard and get upset. Their target is the situations they know make you mad.  Instead, take a deep breath and ignore the taunt (for me this was so hard to do).  Try to do the opposite of what they expect because really, they want you to see through their ploy and find out the real problem.

4. Ask them about their day.

This technique even works with spouses!  Even if your teen only grunts or says the obligatory, it was okay, ask anyway. Your show of caring will go a long way to convince them that you are interested in the things that they do and how they feel.  When I get home from work my 17-year-old always asks “How was your day Mom” and most of the time — he hears the same thing “Work is Work”…but he asks and it always gets him a response!

5. Be honest with them.

If you don’t understand the situation they are talking about then say so. Kids know when you are being insincere. Discuss the situation until you get an idea of where they are coming from. Your teen won’t mind explaining as long as they know you are listening.  I sometimes fill silly asking, but often times, I am not exactly sure what they are talking about UNLESS I ask! :-)

6. Allow them their privacy.

This one is tricky and since you know your child better than anyone else, you can draw the line. Teens value their time alone (as much as we value our time alone as parents).  While the policy in your home may be that there are no locks on the doors, always show respect by knocking before entering. If your kids don’t want to be pressed about a situation in school, wait until they are ready (as long as it’s not urgent) and then talk about it.

Parenting a teenager takes a tough skin, a willingness to be vulnerable and lots of love. You will make mistakes but whatever you do, don’t ever stop talking.  In the end…we love our kids with all our hears and they just need to know that no matter what.  We always need to be there for them in good times or bad!


Journey to Joy

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