Teenagers, Adolescents, Communication

My Top 2 Tips for Talking with your Teenager

Keeping lines of communication open between parents and teenagers isn’t always easy. I work with parents who are devoted to maintaining strong ties with their adolescents. If you have a teenager that tells you everything, or even one that tells you a lot, you may be doing these things already. The truth is that any parent can improve communication with their adolescent by doing the following:

1. Allow the conversation to happen on their timeline, not yours.

Asking your teenager to sit down and talk with you is not the most effective way to start a dialogue. What’s more successful is using any opening that they give you. For example, instead of asking to talk and starting with, “So, what’s happening with your friends?” you wait for them to bring up something and then follow their lead. For example, you pick up your child and out of nowhere he mutters, “Johnny is such a jerk.” There’s your opening. Now you can validate his feelings and ask about what’s going on. “Sounds like something happened between you and Johnny today and you’re not feeling so great.”

2. Validate their feelings.

Validation is so important! When your teenagers feel like you understand how they feel communication will be much easier and they’ll share so much more. Validating feelings doesn’t mean you agree with them, it’s simply a way to show kids that we understand. Let’s imagine your daughter tells you her math teacher (who you actually adore) is an idiot. Many parents will mistakenly respond to a situation like this by telling their teenagers that their language is disrespectful. At that point one of two things will happen, your teenager either shuts down or an argument begins because they feel invalidated and misunderstood. In response to your teenager’s comment you can say anything to help them feel understood like, “You’re really upset. What happened?” You’re not agreeing and you’re not judging, you’re simply showing your child that you understand how they feel.

If communication with your teenager is difficult please know that it can get better. Let’s talk about your family relationships and how I can help.

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