Before I had teens, I used to feel rather intimidated walking into a roomful of teenagers. When my co-worker and I would teach groups, I would jump at the chance to talk to the adults, partially because I didn't want to try to communicate with the teens. Now that I have helped raise two teenagers and worked with hundreds of teen, here are 10 best tips for communicating with teenagers, that will help you chat away like a pro!
If you are new to the land of teenagers, don't worry! You are going to love them. Yes, teens can come across as they have it all together and be intimidating. But you will find that most teenagers still want your approval. So as a mom, continue to trust your instincts and maybe try out a new tip or two!
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If you want your teen to share their personal life with you then you have to have a relationship.
Think about it. Are you going to disclose your thoughts and feeling to someone to whom you don't feel close? No, of course not. So creating good communication starts with spending time together.
Be there for your teenager. When you are together try to have times when you are focused on them and not distracted by work or your phone.
I always knew it was important to create a strong relationship with your kids. But when I read the book Hold Onto to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More than Peers by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate, I was shocked. If we as parents aren't present enough our kids will look elsewhere for direction. And it can happen right under our noses, even as we try to be good parents.
Get your teen talking with you by asking open ended questions. Open ended questions can't be answered with a simple yes or no answer.
Some examples of open ended questions:
As we communicate with our teenagers, don't forget to share what is going on in your own life. This can accomplish two very important goals.
One, sharing about your life allows your teens to hear your heart and to see the personal growth that is still continuing in your life. This encourages teens to realize that maturing is an ongoing lesson. Learning and reflecting on life is a good thing.
Two, talking about YOUR day, promotes that idea that life is not ALL about them. While your teenager is very important, they are not the only person in the family that matters. Being part of a family and society is about valuing yourself but also caring for others!
Have you heard about these mother and daughter journals? I loved this idea! Want to take your conversations deeper? Buy a mother & daughter journal and take turns writing in them. Create a space in your life where it is just about you two:)
Nothing shuts up a teenager like a parent interrupting and jumping to conclusions. Make sure you listen all the way through before you jump in with advice or to confront.
This can be so hard. I want to listen, but when I start to hear my teenager share a
dumb scary questionable idea, I react out of fear. Fear that they will follow through with said idea. Typically, teens are just trying to process everything and sharing out loud.
So really try to listen all the way through and ask more questions!
If you have read any of my posts you know I mention respect often. This was so eye opening to me that teens really want respect. So to keep your teenager communicating with you, you want to have a tone of respect when you talk to them.
Try to not talk at them or down to them like they are little kids. They will typically pull away and stop sharing with you if you continue to talk disrespectfully.
I have had both extremes. One teen I literally had to close my bedroom door on saying I was done talking for the day. And one teen from who I literally couldn't get any information of importance, as if they had been trained to withhold ALL information! Yikes!
So I get it that some teens are more challenging to extract pertinent information, like are they OK!
One trick that I finally stumbled upon is to lull your reluctant talker into spilling the information by working together. If they like being in the kitchen, ask them to help you fix dinner. As you work together, they will start talk about non- revealing information and then suddenly BOOM! Your reluctant talker will share with you some actual personal information.
Try to act natural and your reluctant talker may even share more with you!!
One reason parenting teenagers can be a struggle is that they are facing some tough issues. As parents we don't always know what to say, and we often can't fix or change the situation. But that is OK!
Focus on listening to how your teen is feeling. Validate your teen's feelings by sharing how you believe that is normal to feel (scared, anxious, stressed, jealous, etc...) the way they are feelings.
Encourage them to feel the feelings and then to gradually work through and release the negative emotions.
There are so many ways to communicate these days it can be boggling. So what is your teen's favorite way?
Increase the odds of your teen staying in touch by figuring out how they like to chat. Does your teenager like to talk via text, Skype, Facetime, email or FB messenger? Would they prefer to wait til you all are face to face? Is your teen a rare breed that actually likes to talk on the phone?
What works best for you and your teenager?
I don't truly like multi tasking. Even when I am in the kitchen, in the place I feel most comfortable, it can be hard to completely listen as my family chats away.
There is something about sitting around the table. It is ordinary and every day. And yet, a good meal makes everyone happy. And we are all focused on ONE task - eating! This makes communication natural, as we focus our attention on one another.
Dinnertime can get a little crazy with everyone working and having various activities. But even if you can't sit down for dinner every evening, don't give up on the idea on eating together a couple times a week. And if you make it a weekly thing that your family does, your kids will come out of their room to eat with little fuss!
This may not be a typical communication tip but follow me a minute. A tween and teenager needs rules and boundaries. If a tween or teenager is allowed to do whatever THEY want, then when it comes to communication it follows that they will just ignore a parent if they don't want to talk.
Often I hear parents talk about being unable to get their kids to come out of their room to talk or that their teens just ignores them and walks away. WHAT!?
Yes, teens will get mad and stomp away occasionally. But if you literally can't get your kids to ever talk with you because THEY don't want to then we probably have a respect and boundary problem more than a communication problem.
If you find yourself in this situation, you may want to review the house rules and see if you can begin to set clearer rules and reward the positive behavior.
So what tip are you rocking and doing an amazing job? Which communication skill do you need to work at a little?