If you have a teen, you know that this time in life brings major changes to your responsibilities as a parent. Believe it or not, that’s something you have in common with your teen.
The emotional changes and increased responsibilities that come with puberty may frighten teens just as much as you. This may leave you wondering if there are any secrets to maintaining your closeness during this strange, yet amazing time.
As a mother myself, I’ve found that the following strategies work well.
1. Keep Things Informal
It’s often more productive to talk when teens feel relaxed. Good moments for getting your children to open up about their feelings are when you’re having fun together as a family. Laidback mealtimes can be very effective, especially if you cook something they really like.
2. Know When to Talk
Part of communicating with teens is understanding that they have off days too. Just as you probably don’t feel like talking after going through stressful problems at work, your once-enthusiastic child gets irritated and tired as well. Give them some space and a chance to calm down before asking how things went.
3. Try Not to Overreact or Interrupt
You’re a parent, and you love your kids more than anything. We get it; you want to protect them. That honest concern can make it tempting to lose your cool if your teen tells you something you don’t want to hear. However, while you do need to keep children safe from things like drugs, yelling at them when they’ve opened up to you, or telling them how disappointed you are, may not get you the results you want. Instead, let your child tell the whole story before you say anything.
4. Learn to REALLY Listen
Friends hear more than words; they try to understand the person saying them. As you listen to your kids speak, try to put yourself in their place. Avoid minimizing feelings or saying things like “everything is fine.” By empathizing, you make it easier for teens to tell you what they really think, not just what you want to hear.
5. Look for Opportunities for Genuine Praise
Everyone likes to feel smart, attractive and good at things. Teens are no different. By congratulating them often for the good things, it’s easier for them to feel close to you when you need to correct them. Look for opportunities large and small:
- Let them know they did an amazing job with their homework.
- Give them a high-five for standing up for a friend.
- Say “thank you” for keeping their room clean or doing you a favor.
- Share how much you appreciate it when they call to let you know they’re running late.
6. Don’t Lecture
Developing the ability to make decisions is a natural and desirable part of becoming an adult. Instead of “putting your foot down,” ask your children questions that help them come to the conclusion themselves as to why behaviors such as taking drugs are dangerous, such as the following:
- “What do you think would happen in this hypothetical example?”
- “What would you tell a friend if they wanted to do this?”
7. Set the Example
There may be times when your son or daughter will say something hurtful. If this happens, resist the urge for payback. Instead, set the example of how you want your kids to react. It may take a while, but children are likely to imitate the things they learn from you, including the need to apologize.
8. Don’t Give Up
Many teens keep their affection for parents under wrap, but it’s still there. In other words, your child appreciates your help more than they let on. Rules give them stability, even if they claim to dislike them. Don’t give up, and you’ll likely receive a heartfelt thank you later on.
9. Explain Rules Patiently
Rules can be a good thing, but no one like a dictator. Taking the time to explain why you decided this or that makes it easier for teens to comply happily.
10. Spend Time Together
Good communication can’t be forced. It’s the product of friendship. Sometimes, maintaining a healthy relationship with your teen means just having fun together. Whether heading to the mall to try on clothes, riding ATVs on vacation or playing video games — whatever he or she is interested in — these moments help your teen to confide in you.
Stay Best Friends Forever…
Good teen communication, like any truly valuable thing in life, takes work, but the results are worth the effort. You can protect your child from common dangers that appear during their teen years, and assist them in growing to adulthood. For other great tips that help you to take great care of your kids, check out our exceptional blog articles.