Our children turn into teenagers and communicating with them becomes more difficult. Here are seven tips for more effective communication with your teenager.
9 Tips for More Effective Communication With Your Teenager
When my oldest turned thirteen it was like there was this switch that flipped. One day he was telling me everything, and I mean everything (think bathroom habits and hair growth) about his life and the next day I could barely get him to talk. All my questions were met with one-word answers.
He would come home from school, and when I asked, “How was your day?” All I would get is, “Fine.”
If I said, “What did you do?” He would say, “Nothing.”
Where were the long explanations about the algebraic equations he had learned about and who was leading in the Iditarod race? There wasn’t even anything about the science experiments that were so cool. What happened to my little boy?!
He Became a Teenager!
It happens, our little boys and little girls turn into teenagers and communicating with them becomes more difficult. Not all is lost, though. I found there were ways to get my son to talk to me. It just had to be on his terms.
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How to Get Your Teen To Talk to You and How to Have More Effective Communication with Your Teenager
These tips on how to get your teenager to talk to you may not be what you expect, but they have been found to help open that door of effective communication with teens. We can’t MAKE our teens talk to us but these tips on how to get your teenager to talk to you will help you see that when it comes to communication, we help set the stage for effective communication with teens.
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You will find that for effective communication with your teenager, you should not pressure them. Trust me, they will open up to you.
Make sure you are available to listen to them.
Capture those moments when they are willing to talk and share their thoughts and feelings with you. You never know when it will be. My son seemed to open up the most while we were in the car. I tried to drive him around as much as possible, which gave us ample opportunities to talk.
Figure out where and when your teen’s time to talk is. Maybe your teen will want to talk while you are making dinner. Maybe it will be while you are watching your favorite TV show. Instead of getting frustrated, STOP and listen! You won’t regret taking that moment to effectively communicate with them. You never know when that moment is going to come again.
When we choose to listen to our teens about little things (remember, those little things are usually big things to them), we open the door to when they want to discuss big things.
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Validate Their Feelings
As parents, we are wired to solve our children’s problems. What teens need are their feelings validated. Maybe it isn’t the end of the world that Sally said something about your daughter to Jill, but at that moment, she is hurting. Validate how your daughter is feeling by acknowledging her feelings. If your son comes home talking about how a certain teacher just isn’t fair. Now isn’t the time to talk about how everything isn’t fair in life. Validate his feelings, and let him know how frustrating it must be.
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No Judgement Zone
Part of validation is to listen without judgment. How do you listen without judgment when you might disagree with your teen?
When you listen without judgement you are listening with empathy. When you listen with empathy, you are trying to put yourself in your teenager’s shoes. We may not understand exactly what your teenager is feeling, but you can be that person to be with them when they are feeling strong emotions. Brene Brown talks about empathy and says that when we have empathy for someone and show empathy, we make connections with each other. When you show empathy to your teen you are making a connection with them.
For effective communication don’t dismiss their disappointments and hurts. That will only drive them away and they won’t want to share with you. Validating how they feel will help them to connect with you and trust you.
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Control Your Emotions
It can be easy to lose your temper when you have a teenager. Teens can be rude at times and don’t always behave appropriately. When your teen is acting up and responding out of control and you act the same way, you aren’t setting a very good example. For effective communication try to remain calm when responding to your teen’s behaviors. If you find that neither of you is able to remain calm, take a break. Get together later to talk about things once you both have had a chance to cool off.
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Tone of Voice
As parents, we need to watch our tone of voice. Teenagers can pick up on the slightest change in the tone of voice. Keep your tone of voice calm and loving. An angry, sarcastic tone will drive a teen away. When you keep your tone of voice calm, your teen will be more willing to listen. But, keep it short! You will lose your teen with long drawn out lectures.
How does your teen talk to others? What tone of voice do they use? What type of tone of voice do they use when they are talking to you? Or to their siblings? Recognizing that the tone of voice we use matters also will help your teen and the way the communicate with others.
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We often praise our children when they are little, but they still need praise when they are teenagers. Look for ways to praise your teenager. When my boys were teens they were involved in sports. I would watch for the little things they would do and give them praise for the things I saw. If they complimented a teammate, I would praise them for supporting their teammates. I would compliment them if I saw them helping to pick up sports gear and equipment without being asked.
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As parents, we can find many ways to praise our teenagers. They might act like it’s no big deal or that they don’t like it, but the truth is they do. Praising them builds a positive relationship between you and your teen and improves your communication.
One thing we want to teach teens is that they can achieve anything they want if they are willing to work hard. One way we help them learn this is the way in which we praise. We can praise the effort and hard work that they make in school, sports, and whenever we notice that they have worked hard. Don’t say good boy, good girl…I’m sure they are good, but let’s praise them in ways that will build them up and will help them recognize that what they do has value.
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Ask For Your Teen’s Opinion
Find the opportunity to ask for your teen’s opinion. Exchanging thoughts, ideas and observations about the world, community and family events is a great way to effectively communicate with your teen. It helps them to feel that you value their opinion. You don’t have to act like you always have the answers.
Ask your teen what they think you should do in certain situations. Show that you trust them and that you value their ideas. Be careful not to criticize what they have to say. When a teenager feels valued and trusted, they will feel like they can open up and communicate with you. When you ask your teen’s opinion, you have an opportunity to practice those listening skills!
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Learn How Your Teen Communicates
What are some ways your teen likes to communicate? Does he like to text? Is she a fan of Facebook or Instagram? Take advantage of the technological methods available and send your teenager positive messages of encouragement and praise through texting, on Facebook and Instagram. Don’t overdo it. Occasional messages let your teen know you are thinking of them and gives you an opportunity to communicate. You might find yourself in a conversation with them and they might open up to you in the process.
Occasionally I would text my boys when they were in the house hanging out in their bedroom, something like, “Come here. I need to tell you something.” Almost every time they would come find me and say something like, “Really mom! You couldn’t come get me?” I’m not sure why it worked, but it did. We usually ended up laughing about it. I would then have their attention, and I could talk to them for a few minutes. Learn how your teen communicates. It really works.
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Enjoy Your Teen
The teen years can be difficult, but teenagers are also a whole lot of fun! Take the time to enjoy your teen. Go to their practices and games. Attend their concerts. Allow them to have friends over and a few parties at your house.
Learn about the things they are interested in. I know more about takedowns, single legs, pitches, offsides, a balk, and when to bunt then I would have ever thought possible. I have watched most action adventure movies, listened to numerous band practices, attended an incredible number of sports practices, games, concerts, and plays and have loved every moment!
Be sure to tell your teens you love them, and hug them as often as they will allow. They need to hear and feel your love now more than ever. As you show them your love and enjoy your teen, it will build a stronger bond with them, and they will be more willing to communicate with you.
There you have it, tips for more effective communication with your teenager.
What helps you have more effective communication with your teen?
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Eveliina is an intern currently working with us! She is on her way to getting her degree in Marriage and Family Studies! Eveliina is a wife, a mom, and a grandma. She loves every moment of life. She also has a love for photography and reading!