Parenting My Teen

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Tips On Communicating With Your Teen

By: Aurelia Category: Parenting A Teen, Teen Emotional Health

All at once you may discover that you are at a loss for words when it comes to talking to your teen. Just a few years prior, they wanted a bedtime story or a comforting hug to feel that everything was alright. Well, they may decline the former, but the latter is still appreciated even if they say it is not. You just have to time it better during the teenage years.

But, that won’t get you out of the doghouse with your teen all the time. You will have to learn their language too. We’ll get into that in a second. First, here are some tips on how to simply talk to them.

 

Listen Actively

This is the number one way to communicate with them. Think about husbands and wives for a second. Wives can always tell when their husbands are not paying attention. It could be the glazing over of the eyes or even the fact that you are not looking at the person directly.

The same applies to you and a conversation with your teen. Conversations are going to get few and far between as they grow more independent of you. Treat each one as precious. Here’s how.

Make eye contact – Look your child in the face as they talk to you. What they have to say may not be earth-shattering but it is important to them.

Stop what you are doing – Conversations don’t always happen at convenient times. But, if you are reading the paper or watching a television show, put it down or turn off the set for a few moments and give them your undivided attention.

Resist the urge to form a response in your head – We’ve all done it before. As soon as the person who is talking to us begins speaking we feel we have the gist of what they are saying. So, we stop listening and concentrate on what we will say when they are finished. A telltale sign is that you begin to nod your head as if in agreement even if they are saying something that to them doesn’t deserve a nod.

Communicate what you heard – Sometimes what we hear is not exactly what is being said. When your teen finishes speaking, simply repeat back to them what you heard them say so that there is no miscommunication from the start.

 

Non-Verbal Communication

What you don’t say is just as important as what you do say. Kids and teenagers are quite astute. They can pick up on your emotional state from how you act. Use your non-verbal skills to put a positive spin on your talks with them.

Use open non-verbal gestures – When you sit and talk with your teen, keep your arms at your sides or on the arm of the chair. Avoid crossing your legs. Open gestures convey a willingness to listen. Also, try to avoid placing your hands on your hips if you are frustrated or pointing fingers at your teen.

Be mindful of your facial expression – It is easy to screw up your face when your teen says something that you don’t like. That sends the message to them that you have stopped listening to what they are saying or that they are not getting through to you. For example, if you were telling a friend that you were having plastic surgery and they frowned at you or furrowed their eyebrows, wouldn’t you stop talking? A disapproving look is just like saying “I don’t approve” with your mouth. Instead, try to smile when appropriate or keep your expression neutral. Resist the urge to roll your eyes also.

Make body contact – Teens are not averse to having their parents hug or touch them (except when friends are around). Sitting away from them can signify that you are standoffish about what they are saying. Sit next to them so that they know they have your attention and that you care. It provides security even though they may act like they don’t need it.

Keep a positive tone – When your voice drops an octave or two, kids get worried. Either it means that you are mad or not in the mood to talk. Use it sparingly though. Too much happiness in your voice can sound phony to them.

Mind the noises – This is a funny but serious one. Have you ever sucked your teeth or sighed heavily when your teen says that they want to talk. Before they even open their mouth they may turn and leave after a long sigh. Unconsciously, you could be pushing them away from you and towards the advice of their friends.

Be sure to check out Real Life Guidance Guide to Understanding Your Teen to grab some additional parenting help and help solve the mysteries in understanding your teen so that you can stay close as a family.

Tips For Communicating With Teenagers

By: Aurelia Category: Parenting A Teen

It can certainly seem daunting to think about communicating with teenagers, but it can be done effectively.   Some teens simply won’t open up and talk at all; others lash out angrily when you try to talk to them. Still others just seem to tune you out. What is a parent to do?

Here are some tips tips for communicating with teenagers effectively

Start Early

Good communication is a natural outgrowth of a healthy relationship. Establishing a rapport early on in your teen’s life – before he or she is a teen – can make communication much easier when the teen years roll around.

If your child is already in the teen years, it’s not too late. Work on building a relationship and good communication should follow, and vice versa.

Practice Good Listening Skills

It’s easy for parents to get so busy that we just don’t really listen. We get wrapped up in our own musings and thoughts, and tend to tune out our teens and then wonder why they tune us out!  One of my favorits tips for communicating with teenagers is to really sit down with them and try to listen.  Mak eye contact and acknowlede what they say by repeating a summary of what your teen just said back to them.  Teens are more open to communicating with us when they know they are are truly listening. 

Good listening should be non-judgmental. Ask questions that show you are interested and really hearing what your teen is saying. If you listen, your teen will probably be more likely to listen to you. Thus, communication is enhanced both ways.

Delay Your Response

Sometimes parents respond automatically, without really thinking. These knee-jerk responses to what are sometimes less-than-tactful teenage comments tend to be defensive and/or corrective. This not only sends the message that you aren’t really listening (you are giving a “canned” or expected response), but it can also cause arguments and result in your teen shutting down.

Don’t Argue with Emotions

One of the most basic, helpful, and at the same time difficult things for parents to accept is that emotions are not wrong. It’s perfectly okay to have rules about what is an acceptable expression of emotion and what isn’t, but the emotion itself should not be criticized.

If your teen expresses strong feelings like hate, it may be tempting to react with shock, telling your teen that is not acceptable. Instead, ask your teen why he or she has such strong feelings and find out what’s going on. After you’ve listened, then you can discuss how hate is a really powerful and potentially destructive feeling.

Encourage Problem Solving

Ask your teen questions about what he or she is struggling with, and see if you can guide him or her around to a solution. For example, your teen may be extremely angry with a particular teacher or friend. Find out why by asking calm, non-judgmental questions. Then, ask your teen what he or she plans to do about it, and help him or her think of something if need be.

Don’t just tell your teen what to do; the point of this is to encourage your teen to think of the solution on his or her own.

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