How to Talk to your Teenager!
Communication is the key for your teen to have a healthy transition into adulthood: you need to make yourself available and be there for them, for they are sure to need you. To communicate well with a teen, you must allow a few simple changes to your normal conversing behavior.
First, and most important, is that you must approach your teen on their terms. Dominating the conversation and trying to exert your dominance as a parental figure will get you nowhere; worse, your teen will shut you off entirely and refuse to communicate with you. Instead, allow them to lead the conversation where they want it to go, and you’ll find that your teen will lead the conversation where they are most comfortable with.
The next thing worth noting is body language, and how you react to potentially bad news. You need to be firm, but supportive: make your first priority that your teen knows you’re there for them, and will support them through any choice they make.
Don’t absolve them of guilt, but don’t tear them to shreds over something small either. Balance, as it most often is, is key. With your emotional display balanced, your teen won’t feel conflicting thoughts, and will be less likely to repeat the behavior.
You may also consider therapy as an option to improve communication with teens. In many cases, having a 3rd party present, a mediator, can do wonders to dissolve conflict.
More importantly, it helps both sides see the pros, and the cons, of the opposite position. With therapy and family counseling, the most difficult of topics can be broached, and with the mediator’s assistance, difficult solutions worked out to complex problems.
Another option is a form of communication handbook. These books offer advice for both you and your teen, and how to deal with the emotions that both of you are feeling.
Remember, it’s the first time both of you are going through this, so neither of you should be upset when the other gets frustrated or angry. It’s all a learning process, and something that will help you both grow as a person.
With the tips I’ve outlined here, communication with your teen still won’t be easy: no matter how many books you read, nothing replicates the feeling of broaching a difficult subject or butting heads with your teen over issues like personal freedom, sexual freedom, drug use, and so on.
As long as you make it clear you’re putting your teen first, the outcome should be positive, however.