Parenting – 10 ways to effectively communicate with Adolescents.

The world is changing rapidly, so it can be hard to keep up with the fast-paced social media trends and social pressures placed on our teens. Combine this with significant developmental and hormonal changes, boundary-pushing, tantrum-throwing, and a desire to be independent; it can sometimes feel like a glass wall separates you from your teen. In addition, unlike childhood, where children follow their parents around like a lost puppy, adolescence prompts a complete switch in attitude, where they often avoid wanting to be seen in public with their parents.

Connection is critical in establishing an authentic relationship built on effective communication. It is vital that you support their mental well-being and social and emotional learning by being interested in them, their thoughts, and their feelings. Without connection, it is unlikely that your teen will open up for advice or guidance.

So let’s work towards moving beyond the predictable one-word response such as ‘fine,’ ‘whatever,’ or ‘maybe.’

  1. Listen: 
    Although you may be curious about what is happening in your teenager’s life, asking a direct question will likely not give you the answers you are after, and in their minds, it may feel like you are prying. So when they do decide to reach out or make comments about their life, make time to listen; they are likely to open up more if they are the ones initiating and knowing that they are being heard. This strategy will allow them to open up on their terms and eliminate the feeling of being pressured into a conversation they may not be ready to have.
  2. Show what they care about matters to you:
    As your teen grows into their own person and adapts to new interests and ideas of who they are, it is important to be accepting and show interest. Although their music taste or choice in activities may not align with yours, it is essential to show interest and encourage them in what they love. Ask them questions about their interests and participate where you can; these actions show that you care about them. 
  3. Validate their feelings: 
    You were once their age, so remember that at times it may have felt like the world was against you, and the slightest thing mattered. So, for a moment, try and put yourself back in their shoes; it can be easy to minimise their feelings and ‘life crisis’ as insignificant with words like ‘you’ll be fine’ or ‘it’s not a big deal.’ Instead, try to view what they are going through with an open mind and validate their emotions by saying things like “that sounds hard” or “I can understand why you would be upset.” You may want to ask them calmly what you can do to help the situation.
  4. Show and build trust in each other:
    Adolescents are in a vulnerable period of life, and all they want is to be taken seriously; that’s why it’s critical to explore ways to express that you trust them. For example, asking them for a favour, shows that you have confidence in their abilities and that they can handle the task. Allowing your teenager to see that you have faith in their abilities will boost their confidence and help them rise to the occasion.
  5. Don’t be a dictator:
    Although it’s important to set boundaries and rules, you need to be ready to explain them. As a parent, you may feel like you shouldn’t have to explain yourself; however, there is significant evidence to advise that providing an explanation is the best practice. Using the phrase “because I said so” or “because I’m the parent” limits the communication flow between you and your teen. Evidence suggests that when you don’t explain why you have set certain boundaries and speak in a condescending tone, they can become fearful and anxious, less self-confident, and poor communicators. While pushing the boundaries is natural for teenagers, hearing your calm and thoughtful explanation about why parties on school nights aren’t allowed will make the rule seem more reasonable. 
  6. Give Praise:
    Children often receive ample praise for their small achievements; however, as parents, this habit can often fade away as they enter adolescents. It is critical that you continue implementing prise into their next life stage, as they need self-esteem boosters. Although they may act like they are too cool to care about what you think, the truth is that they want to see that you care and are seeking your approval. Be on the lookout for opportunities to offer positive and encouraging words; this is great for the foundation of a good relationship, particularly if there is some strain between you and your teenager. 
  7. Control your emotions:
    When your teen is upset, showing a temper, or being rude, it is easy for you to respond in a fiery tone, but remember, as an adult, your teen is less likely to control their emotions or think logically when upset. The best advice is to hold your tongue, take ten deep breaths, and wait for the drama to calm down before calmly and rationally discussing the situation. 
  8. Do things together:
    Talking isn’t the only way to communicate; there is a lot said in partaking in activities as a family or simply one-on-one with your teenager. It’s critical that you spend time doing something you both enjoy without them worrying about you asking intrusive questions; keep the conversation on the activity and remember, when you actively listen, you will identify cues where you can take the opportunity to ask more questions about topics they bring up. The importance of doing things together is about building a connection while creating lasting positive memories.
  9. Share regular meals:
    This one may seem simple, but with so many obligations from your work to their sporting or musical appointments, sometimes dinner time can be chaotic, so make sure when you do all have the opportunity to sit down together that the T.V is off and nobody is on their devices. Sit down for at least 20 minutes to enjoy a meal together and chat about everyone’s day. Providing this opportunity for you all to chat casually will help build on communication and connection, allowing your teen to open up when more important issues arise.
  10. Be observant:
    By now, you would have gained the notion that your teenager is going through some rapid changes as they build on their maturity and independence; however, it is critical to take notice of any significant changes. Pay attention to mood, behaviour, energy levels, and appetite shifts. It’s also important to recognise if they stop wanting to do things that make them happy or begin to isolate themselves or even stop their ability to function daily. Ask them about it and be supportive, without judgment; they may need your help, and it could be a sign that they need to talk to a mental health care professional. 

Remember, as your teenager grows, effective communication is the best way to show your love and respect; If you make time and show patience over the small issues, they will know that they can count on you for more pressing things. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *