Five Strategies for Improving Communication With Your Teen

By Evan Fischer
Sponsored Guest Contributor

What happened to your sweet, innocent, loving child? Suddenly they are a beast, prone to back talking and cantankerous posturing, glaring, staring and… worst of all, ignoring. Gone are the days when you were their whole world and hugs and kisses were easy to come by. Now you’re lucky if you even get a ‘good morning’ on the way out the door. Melodrama is everywhere and you can hardly get through a day without a fight. If this sounds a lot like your life, then you probably have a teen on your hands. Sometimes you have to just pause, take a look around you, and realize that this phase will not last forever. But until it passes, here are a few tips that might help you get through to your cranky kid (and keep your sanity).

1) Listen Up

Most teens like to talk, and talk, and talk. Listen to your teen and allow them to finish their thoughts (note that this could take a bit). Many parents do all the talking as a way to try to teach or set an example for their kids, but often times, the trick is to talk with your kid, not at them, and sometimes not to talk at all. Letting your child participate in a conversation as an equal will give them the confidence to speak their mind. And that’s a good thing. Getting teens talking to you instead of at you is the best way to understand what’s going on with them.

2) Table Top Challenge

Challenge your teen by introducing difficult topics at the dinner table. Do not introduce topics that will put them on the spot (and as a result, on the defensive), but real world topics that require them to think beyond their immediate selves for a minute. Challenge your teen to a friendly political debate or ask their opinion on a hard-hitting news topic. If you make it clear that their opinion counts, they’ll start taking yours more seriously, too.

3) An Ever Helping Hand

Offer support when and where support is needed. After all, being a teenager can be pretty hard. Kids have good days and bad days just like adults. Sometimes all they want is a little understanding and maybe a hug (if you’re lucky) at the end of the day. But they will want to come to you on their terms. After all, they are adults now (in their minds). If you make yourself available, they’ll eventually come to you.

4) Rules Lawyer

Don’t judge. Teens HATE to be judged. While it might seem on the outside like they don’t give a rat’s a_ _ about what anyone thinks, they really, really do. If you say something negative, it hits them hard. They still want your approval, but they are also struggling with what it means to be independent. Be open to a different way of thinking, dress, music, and points-of-view. None of what your teen says or does might make sense to you, but that does not mean they are doing it wrong. Instead of passing judgement, take the opportunity to understand what they are doing. Kids love it when they get to be the teacher.

5) The Common Thread

Find ways to relate. Though your teen’s best friend’s latest Facebook post may not interest you in the slightest, don’t let your teen know that. Everything social is exciting to teenagers. Sign up for an account yourself and see what all the hubbub is about, but only to learn about it. Don’t attempt to be their “friend” yet in the social universe. Likewise, if your teen’s favorite genre of music is thrasher metal, you don’t necessarily have to listen to it with them, but talking about music in general could spark creativity and pique an interest other kinds of music and art.

You don’t need a title=”degree in communications” href=”http://communicationmgmt.usc.edu/”>degree in communications or a a licensed child psychologist to be able to relate to your teen. You just need some patience, a few tricks up your sleeve, and a truck full of empathy. Know how to talk with your teen about the things that interest them, and how to listen. Pick up a few music magazines, or learn their favorite video game so you can spend a few hours each weekend well… not talking… but at least bonding. The point is, improving communication starts by not talking at all, but rather observing both your teen and yourself.

About the Author:

Evan Fischer is a freelance writer and part-time student at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, California. He enjoys writing about the latest tech news for a variety of companies and discovering new and innovative gadgets.

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One Response to Five Strategies for Improving Communication With Your Teen

  1. Pingback: Communicating with your teens - Jamie Rishikof, Psychologist

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