- Is your teenager a nightmare to communicate with?
- Do you often feel like throwing in the towel?
- Do you and your teen end up talking at each other rather than to each other?
- Do you end with eye rolls and total silence, instead of words and action?
- What if your conversations could be fun?
- What if your conversations could help both of you understand each other?
- What if your conversations helped you bond?
- What if they actually listened?
All of this sounds too good to be true? It needn’t be. I tell you 6 tried and tested ways that help me each time I get stuck. These have been learned the hard way. And I continue to learn each day.
I would love to learn from you. Do you have any tips on how to improve your conversation with your teenagers? Drop me a line in the comments below.
After every term, when my 13-year old daughter comes home for her vacation, she has a gazillion tales to tell. Tales of her classmates, her teachers, the seniors, their late-night soirees. Forget getting in a word, honestly, I have a hard time just keeping up.
I just listen.
I just let her talk to her heart’s content.
But, once these have been told, and the excitement dies down, things begin to nose-dive.
So things start off on a high. But as you can probably guess, they come crashing down equally fast.
Fast forward to a couple of days later. You will not believe she is the same chirpy girl as day 1.
She is quiet. She does not like to be spoken to.
If I ask her something, I get a whole lot of sass.
The eye-roll – that is her automatic weapon – always ready to shoot.
This girl may or may not want to speak to me. It just depends on the mood she is in.
That is when some of these methods come in handy, while some of the others are always being used (and have done their bit to help.)
Did you read about the time when I did everything I was not supposed to when talking to her? I reveal all about it. Go read!
Why Communication With Your Teen Is Important
Well as parents, we want (and need to) know what is happening in our children’s lives. We are concerned. They are teenagers. They are not adults. There is a lot of experience which they are still to gain. Therefore, it is important that parents know what is going on in the lives of our kids.
We love our kids and are proud of them. We wish to share their joys, sorrows, achievements, and struggles. A lack of information tends to worry us. We begin to imagine the worst. Open communication helps to achieve this.
As our kids grow up, our influence on them is declining (not a bad thing though, just that we need some reassurance that they are doing okay). Their friends become a bigger part of their circle of influence. We would like to know who these friends are if they are keeping proper company.
How To Talk To Your Teenager
Let us listen to our teenagers. Like really listen. Not just hear them, but listen. Which means we acknowledging how they are feeling.
This is especially important when they are upset. In our eagerness to assuage their feelings, it is common for us to dismiss the negatives.
Your girl thinks she looks horrible in her school play. Instead of responding with ‘No, you don’t.’ let us try to say ‘I can see you do not like it and are uncomfortable.’
Let your kids know that you are in their corner, fighting with them. It helps build trust.
Many a time, kids are just looking for acknowledgment that they are right. That helps boost their self-esteem.
Speaking out aloud helps them sort through their train of thoughts and form their considered opinions. (And we need more of these teenagers today). They may not need you to do anything more.
Contradicting them by saying ‘No, you look just fine.Your costume does not make you look weird or ugly.’ is not going to help. You are not likely to change their opinion and you have just lost an opportunity to gain their trust. So avoid doing it.
#2. Be Open Yourself
It helps if you are willing to share yourself. Talk about your day, its highlights and low points. Talk about your plans (and not just about your kids), your successes, your struggles, your friends.
Encourage your partner to be a willing participant in these discussions and share his experiences too.
Have lots of fun-filled conversations. Be careful, not to make every conversation a serious one. Your teenagers have enough of their own problems, they do not want to be burdened with yours too.
Laughter is a great opening. If you all are laughing together, your child is very likely to lower her guards and let you in. She might start off talking about a funny experience at school. That will help you in getting to know more about her friends.
Your being open about your experience encourages children to do the same. I have often found that children of parents who are not open themselves tend to remain closed too.
#3. Find the Right Time
Give your kids undivided attention. Find time to do so. Make them a priority in your life, especially when you are at home.
The dinner table is a great place to share information. Make it a habit to have family meals. Put away your phones and switch off your t.v. Ensure that everyone participates in the discussion, even if they are not in a mood to do so.
Car rides are another great place where kids feel they can bond with their parents. These conversations are typically informal and unplanned – which takes the pressure off by lowering expectations on either side. So use this time wisely.
Personally, I find that there still are days that my daughter likes to be tucked into bed. There are days when she is vulnerable, wanting to be heard and willing to share. I do try and make the most of these times to get updated, know more about the friends she keeps, or even her latest boy band crush!
Doing fun things together – hiking, movies, picnics, a shopping trip – these can be great places to talk to your child.
#4. Ease Into The Conversation
Your children need to feel comfortable with the conversation and not pressured into talking. With teenage mood swings, it is very likely that these times may not come by frequently and you do not have the luxury to wait.
Then start off by complementing your child. Make it genuine. If you notice she is keeping her room cleaner, mention you are happy. If you notice her grades improving, let her know you did.
Use this opening to then ask her something that gets her to think. Ask her what prompted this change? Be careful not to interview her.
Once you get talking, gently steer the conversation to what you want to know, but respect her decision to talk. If you want to know about her fight with her friend, ask her if she is ready to talk about it or you could talk about it when she is ready. This way, your daughter feels comforted and not forced into talking about a topic which still hit a raw nerve inside her.
#5. Do Unto Them What You Want Them To Do To You
Simply put, give them full attention. Or,
Keep that damn phone away.
Let them know they take priority over everything else.
Pay attention to them and they will learn to pay attention to you.
#6. Don’t Do
Do not question them or grill them. The child feels pressured and will shut up when asked too many questions. If you find yourself doing so, it is time to take stop that conversation.
Do not get into a battle of attention with them. The more you try to force them to have a conversation with you, the more they will resist. The moment you get into an argument, they have got their victory, already.
Do not allow your emotions to get in your way especially your anger. Stay calm.
Don’t punish them for not talking to you. Remember, your children still need you and will come to you at an appropriate time. Right now, they are just having a hard time.
What are some of the things that have helped you in having open conversations with your teen? I would love to know, so will you drop me a line in the comments below, will you?