10 Tips for Communicating With Your Teenager
Sometimes, I wish that raising kids come with a step-by-step book of instructions. That would make the task that parents face in raising teens a lot easier. Two of my kids are already in their teenage years. So, my husband and I have a big challenge ahead of us. I’ve seen some of our friends with teenage kids get their piece of headaches and heartaches. I hope we wouldn’t experience the same.
Communication plays a very important role in keeping misunderstandings within the family at bay. I really need some communication tips right now especially with my teen boys.
Do you have teenage boys? Do you feel that somehow communicating with them is a bit difficult? Sometimes, I just don’t understand what they are saying. Why is it that they often mumble? I often find myself saying “huh?” with a matching frown. Maybe it’s because they are in their puberty age, so changes in their voice get in the way.
So, I’m writing this post to remind myself to take things one day at a time and to share the tips I’ve read regarding bridging the gap with my teens. Taking the steps to improve parent-teen communication now is important not just for strengthening present familial relationships, but more so in the future.
Here are 10 tips that can help improve communication with your teen.
1. Watch your body languageYour body movement says a lot about how you feel even if you’re not saying anything. If you’re tired, you tend to slump. When angered, your jaw muscles tighten and your eyes narrow into slits.
Teenagers are good at interpreting body language. Yours will betray you when you are talking to them. They know when you are angry or when you are about to scold them. So, try to avoid sitting with your arms crossed, looking away from them or squirming in your seat. It might scare them and they won’t listen to what you say or won’t speak up what’s in their mind.
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 he or she has to say. I’m guilty of this sometimes.
2. Give your undivided attention
A teenager will stop talking or sharing how they feel when they suspect that you are not “tuned in” to them. So take some time to sit comfortably and give your teen undivided attention with consistent eye contact. It lets them know that you care. I have to consciously do this.
It helps to remember the times when you were a teenager. Some of the things you said to your parents or did were actually intended to freak them out. It’s your way of getting your parent’s attention, right?
3. Keep your emotions in check
Well, teenagers will attempt to push your buttons if they can. So, don’t get upset easily. Sometimes, parents overreact even before understanding the whole situation. You need to understand that oftentimes the kids intentionally create the situations they know would make you mad.
So, do this — take a deep breath and ignore the taunt. Do the opposite of what they expect because really, they want you to see through their ploy and find out what is the real problem.
This technique works with spouses also. Even if your teen only grunts or says the obligatory, “It was okay,” ask anyway.
4. Ask them about their day
Your gesture will show them that you care. And it will go a long way to convince them that you love them and that you are interested in what they do and how they feel.
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.
5. Tell them how you really feel
This is not meant to contradict tip #3. Tip #3 is teaching parents to take things calmly. This tip is telling parents to be honest when dealing with their teens.
This one is tricky. I’m sure sometimes parents want to know what is the text message of a boy or girl friend, or perhaps what is your child doing online or on Facebook. Since you know your child better than anyone else, you can draw the line.
6. Respect their privacy
Teens value their time alone. While the policy in your home may be that there are no locks on the doors, always show respect by knocking before entering. If they don’t want to be pressed about a situation in school, wait until they are ready (if it’s not urgent) and then talk about it.
What I have learned as a Christian is to always pray for people and circumstances. This is especially important when we have concerns with our teens. When some parents are ready to give up on their teens, the best thing to do is to entrust them to God. Believe it or not, God is still in the business of making miracles.
7. Keep praying
Here are 3 more that I want to add from the WCSAP site to make this list of 10 parent-teen communication tips.
One of the reasons that parents and teens are not able to talk is because the TV is always turned on. Turn it off so you can talk and listen to one another.
8. Turn off the TV
Many parents don’t give their teens enough praise. Most of the time, parents just notice the mistakes and the problems. That’s got to change.
9. Praise your teen
Some parents like to do all the talking. While the teens just let them talk as if they’re not bothered at all. I guess that’s why Madonna’s song “Papa don’t preach” was very popular to teens back then. Parents need to stop and listen also and let the kids do the talking.
10. Take turns talking
Parenting a teenager takes a tough skin, a willingness to be vulnerable and lots of love and prayer.
We, as parents, will probably make mistakes — lots of mistakes. But whatever we do, we should not ever stop praying, loving and talking with our teens.