by: Christina Botto
Properly communicating with teenagers is a very important part of parenting teenagers.
Often, parents are looking for tips on how to talk to teenagers in order to change the way they talk to their teen.
Parents realize they need to transition from a position of authority and control to the true essence of communication: the exchange of ideas and opinions.
Here are a few tips for parents of teenagers that will help with this process.
Effectively communicating with teenagers is to make sure your teen can rely on these things:
- Their concerns are being heard
- Their ideas, opinions, and feelings matter to you
- Your replies are clear and simple, and not confusing to your teen
Open the lines of communication
Opening the lines of communication with your teen is the most important thing you can do when communicating with teenagers - and something you will probably need to continually work on, because everything connected to parenting teenagers is based on the ability to effectively communicate with your teen.
- To encourage your teen to talk with you, express that your intention is to find out how they actually feel about a situation.
- Ask open-ended questions.
- When your teen comes to you when they need help, don’t judge or scold them for what they’ve done, but help them to solve the problem.
- Don’t be afraid to admit when you’re wrong or made a mistake. We all make bad decisions; that’s how we learn how to better handle a situation next time.
- Praise your teen for a task well done.
- Focus on building a relationship with your teen that will continue to grow and improve throughout your lives.
Consider that teens are unsure how to approach parents with problems.
Teenagers don’t know how to differentiate between too much dependency (“running to mommy and daddy”) and actually having real discussions with parents and other adults about their problems and concerns.
Additionally, our own busy lifestyles often give teens the impression that we don’t have time to listen to their problems.
How many times has your child approached you with a question or story, and your response was “Not now – I’m busy?” Your child may have taken that as not to bother you with problems and questions.
To repair the damage, you will have to work on opening the lines of communication a bit harder, and not expect too much too soon.
Another important consideration is that our teenager does not think at our level.
As parents, we’ve already experienced a lifetime of emotional ups and downs…and that perspective has allowed us to identify what’s truly important, and what we can easily get over or dismiss.
But we never forget our first heartbreak or our first love…we remember, because at that time our world was much smaller, there were no worries, no bills, no job, .... no distractions that prevented us from giving in and to experiene our emotions to the fullest.
Remember? Meet your teen at his or her level of emotions. Offer support, understanding, and compassion instead of telling your teen that "they'll laugh about it in 10 years."
Your teen must overcome their reluctance to talk things out, and learn how to express themselves properly.
As your teen begins to trust that you do have an interest and concern in what goes on in their lives, they’ll be more open to communication and easier to engage.
Is your Teenager talking back?
Backtalk comes from a sense of frustration.
You will hear it when you ask them to do chores, respond with “no” to one of their requests, or lay down rules they don’t like. Backtalk can have several reasons:
- Your teenager has got to have the last word
- Your teen is trying to explain their point better after you already said “no”.
- Your teenager thinks that your response is not fair
- Teenagers are using backtalk to get their way
- Retaliation - they’re simply pushing your buttons
How to stop backtalk:
- Don’t see backtalk as a challenge to your authority
- Accept the fact that your teenager will not always be happy with your decision or answer
- Focus on accomplishing your objective instead of achieving your teenager’s acceptance
- Do not engage in further conversation trying to justify your decision
- Set limits and consequences on backtalk
- Do not allow yourself to be pulled into an argument
When we are talking to teenagers, we can either provide a sense of compassion and understanding, or express anger and disappointment when they ignore our advice and direction. Always be aware that the way we respond to and address our teenagers will determine whether they’ll come to us for answers and advice in the future.
About The Author
Christina Botto is the author of Help Me With My Teenager! A Step-by-Step Guide for Parents That Works. She has also recently published a 3 volume series dealing with specific issues facing teens and parents today, Fitting The Pieces. The series contains practical advice on dealing with some of the biggest problems faced by parents with teens.
To read more about how to talk to teenagers and other strategies to bring you and your teen closer– and put an end to the frustration and madness of a dysfunctional parent-teen relationship, pick up your copy of Christina's Help Me With My Teenager! A Step-by-Step Guide for Parents That Works today
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