Teen Talk: Four Tips For Communicating With Your Adolescent
So you’ve hit “that stage”… The phase of life where you’ve suddenly become ridiculously uncool in your child’s eyes, you’ve been side-lined by a cellular device and you feel like anything and everything you say will be met with a roll-of-the-eyes. Welcome to adolescence.
While we may not be able to magically cure your teen from… well, being a teen, we can provide you with some tips on how to interact with them. We’ve given you four ideas to try out below:
#1: Spend More Time Side By Side, Rather Than Face to Face
It’s a subtle difference, but having conversations while taking a walk, driving in the car or sitting side by side often go over much better than conversations had face to face. Though you may not intend it at all, your teen can experience eye-to-eye talks as tense or confrontational. Engaging him or her in an environment where you don’t have to speak directly is often experienced as less intimidating.
#2: Make Sure You Actually Hear Your Child and Repeat
Often times when our children come to us to share about their day or to tell stories, we instantly feel as though we have “words of wisdom” to pass on. We’re tempted to tell our own stories to match their experiences, hoping they’ll feel better understood or feel like we “get them”.
Instead of jumping to talk about your own experience, make sure you are truly hearing your child, understanding them and really processing what they have to say. It’s good to start your responses with something like: “So what I hear you telling me is…”. Sometimes the best thing you can do is just let them live, make their own decisions and learn from those decisions.
#3: Don’t Always Dive Into the Big Issues
Finding “small talk” topics is very important. Keeping up with your teen’s schedule, things they’re in to, things going on in their life – this is all very important. Being able to talk about things other than behavior, school performance or other “issues” lowers the resistance they feel to being around you and can keep your child more connected. It’s important to have something to talk to them about beyond problems or concerns.
#4: Weed Out Drama From Actual Danger
Adolescence is an undeniable time of “the world revolves around me” thinking – A time during which all things seem significant, universe-altering and even a bit scary.
As a parent of a teen, it can be tempting to hop on the roller coaster and go for the ride of emotions your teen can experience around conflicts with peers, confrontations, identity crises and the number of other situations that arise as we grow up.
When listening to your teen’s story, it can be very beneficial to take a step back and give consideration to what you’re hearing. Without discounting their experience or undermining the story, you can support your teen in their experiences while gently reminding them that this latest issue is not the end of the world. Questions like: “Do you think it’ll stay this way?” or “How do you want it to be?” and “Is there anything you can do to make it like that?” can help.
So… What now?
If you feel that you or your child could benefit from someone to talk to, focused on helping with the family relationships or any variety of issues you may be experiencing, we can help. Our counselors specialize in teen issues: everything from depression to substance abuse and eating disorders… and there is hope.
Contact Us online or by phone with any questions you may have, or to make your first appointment. We’ll be happy to help you and your child get back on track and live a better life.