For anyone raising children, learning to communicate with teenagers is an absolute necessity. Many of us take good communication for granted and little thought is given to the effective use of communication and all the things this involves.
When it comes to our children, communication is one skill that all parents should develop for a better relationship and happier teenager.
Here are a few things to Consider
As in good communication with our peers, the secret lies not just in how you express yourself verbally, but also your body language and your listening skills, the latter of which is often left out when communicating with teenagers.
Some of us find it difficult to adjust our communication skills from that which is required when our children were in 3rd grade to the firm yet respectful communication that is required when they become teenagers. Most of us will admit we don’t always get it right so here are a few simple tips on how to communicate with teenagers.
Are you Listening?
How many times have you been in conversation with your teenage son or daughter and realized that you’re note really listening? You start of well enough, and at the outset they have your full attention, but before you know it, your mind is elsewhere.
It is all too easy to say ‘I hear you’, but are you really listening – the two really are completely different things! Your teenager deserves your full attention when communicating, in the same way you expect their full attention. The secret lies in two way thing – so think about the message you are sending to your teen when it is clear to them they only have half your attention.
Validate Your Teens Feelings
When your teen comes home, hating their science teacher, their best friend, or the world in general what they don’t want to hear is ‘No you don’t’. Your teen is expressing a feeling which they need to have validated, not dismissed. Having open communication with teenagers is allowing them to vent their emotions much in the same way that a counselor allows a client space and a listening ear when they present with a problem.
Try not to dismiss their feelings out of hand, allow your teen to share their feelings with you in their own way within the limits that you set as appropriate behavior.
There is many a damaged adult walking around today with parental criticism from their childhood ringing in their ears. If there is only one thing you take on board about communicating with your teenager it is this – criticize your teens behavior but never your teen. There is a whole world of difference between ‘what you did was very stupid’ and ‘you are stupid’. Sentences beginning with ‘why’ or ‘you’ are more like to end up as critical statements that only serve to attack your teen and put them down. Instead try to get your teen thinking about the consequences of their behavior and choose language aimed at provoking thought. Try to start sentences with ‘I need’, ‘When you’ ‘It makes me feel…’
In the same way that it is important to validate your teen, it is also important that you respect their thoughts, feelings, needs and desires. By showing them respect, teaches them to respect themselves and in turn respect others. It also teaches them that they matter and have something to offer. Teens respect boundaries. Be clear with your teen about what you expect from them and what they can expect from you. Ensure they understand there are consequences to their actions and when they go off track ensure the punishment fits the crime.
Don’t make threats you cannot keep.
Praise, Praise and More Praise! From childhood all the way through their teenage years and beyond, your child can never have enough praise. When you praise your teen your are nourishing their self worth and raising their self esteem which will in turn help them to grow into a confident adult sure of themselves and their ability to achieve the things they set out to do.
These communication lessons with teenagers are a legacy you can pass on. The way you communicate with your teen will dictate the way they communicate with others.
Author: Kelly Price