Does your teenager talk to you?

  • Would you like them to talk more AND hear you more?
  • Do you bump heads with your teenager?
  • What is behind your teenager’s emotions and how can you handle them?

Teenagers are at a stage in their life when they want to be treated as adults and make their own decisions and often parents feel, or their behaviour indicates that they are not ready to do so. This can cause conflict. Sometimes teenagers rebel and sometimes they withdraw so parents don’t know what is happening in their lives. Learning to communicate openly with them through this emotional period in their lives is vital to get them through this transition into adulthood where they can become reliable, successful adults.

How do we do that?

Here are some ideas on how to start developing open communication with them

1. Listening

So often when our teenagers talk we are so quick to give them advice or to share our opinion, especially when they are experiencing difficulties or when we disagree with what they are saying. Just stepping back and listening only, to their whole story without interrupting will make them feel heard. So often we as parents think we need to solve their problems for them or get them to think the way we do. Just listening and acknowledging how they feel settles their emotions which will allow them to start thinking of how to find their own solutions.

2. No Judgement

A large portion of our communication is silent (how we feel) which is often more powerful than our words. Start to notice how you are feeling before speaking and listening to them. Are you judging them or thinking that they are wrong, are you upset about something that has happened earlier in your day? Practise talking to them when you are feeling love toward them. It is easier to start doing this at times when there isn’t a conflict in the moment.

3. Power

Teenagers need power. We disempower them by telling them what to do. We give them power by allowing them to make their own choices and by asking them questions. This can be introduced slowly starting in places where consequences are small. In conversation, once you have listened to their story and acknowledged their feelings it is time for questions. For example if they are experiencing difficulties with friends at school not treating them well you could ask:

  • What does that mean to you?
  • Why do you think they are behaving that way?
  • What do you think about that situation?
  • What do you think about you?.. this establishes their opinion about themselves rather than just accepting other opinions
  • How would you like to be treated?
  • How could you tell them what you want?
  • What would they say? How could you respond?
  • Are you feeling powerful when you talk to them?

By asking questions you are developing a system inside them, to find solutions which will empower them. Encourage them to try, and be there for them when things don’t work…without judgement. Start the questions again. What worked, what did not work? What else could you do? Even if they don’t have answers immediately, you are getting them to think, and that is enough to start.

4. Boundaries

Boundaries in giving them choices is very important, it creates safety and makes sure we as parents get what we need in each situation. Get clear about what outcome you want before giving choices. Think of options you can offer for them to choose. Discuss consequences with them for the results of their choices. Get them to set their own consequences. ALWAYS follow through with consequences …without judgement. Discuss options for going forward.

These are just a few ideas and implementing these strategies on a daily basis can have a huge impact on your relationship, and on their development. If you would like to know more on how to apply them in your specific situations to reduce conflict, create an awesome relationship with your teenager or give them that extra edge for adult life you are welcome to contact me.

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