Communicating with your teenage child can be tough. Their communication tendencies tend to change once they leave their childhood years; whether that is spending more time alone or away from home, talking to you less or shouting and slamming the doors. This change is normal and varies from teen to teen. Most parents may dismiss the possibility of reasoning with their teens until they get much older and ‘wiser’. However, sometimes the parent needs to take the first step if there is to be any hope of effective communication in the future.
Listening With Respect
The first thing parents should try is actively listening to their teens. When your child approaches you with a problem they could be facing, the most impulsive thing to do is offer your parental wisdom about what your kids should do or should have done about the situation. Don’t indulge that impulse. More often than not, teenagers just want to be heard, not lectured. The most effective way of showing them that you’re listening is to clarify what they’ve said by repeating their statements to them. Also, try as hard as you can not to interrupt them while they speak. No one appreciates this, and certainly not your teen.
The biggest barrier to effective communication in every relationship is a lack of emotional control. Sometimes when your teenager approaches you with a problem they have it’s easy to get mad at them or show your disappointment. The best reaction is usually no reaction. When you’re mad, your thoughts are not clear and you may get into an argument that could only drive the two of you farther apart. Remember that he/she has confided in you. Don’t ruin the moment with your judgement. If the situation requires your intervention, approach it when you’re calm.
As a parent, you need to learn how to let your guard down, and this involves sharing you experiences with your teenager. Hearing about your past mistakes gives your child the courage to get through their own trials. Other than that, it makes them comfortable around you and opens up a door of constant communication in the future.
Whatever method you choose we know that you will make a thoughtful decision based on your children’s needs. Just remember, at the end of the day they always look to you for inspiration and guidance regardless if it seems like they appreciate it or not.