Sometimes it feels like trying to talk to your teenage son or daughter is like hiking through the wilderness…you never know when you are going to trip over a tree root or hit your shin against a rock. Here are some helpful tools to use as you begin your hike through the adolescent years!
How to Maintain Communication
Even though teens need to separate from their parents during adolescence, they also need to know that the safety net of home and family is always there for them. If the lines of communication are shut down, they are not yet capable of surviving emotionally; they need support and input. Let?s take a look at a few guidelines for keeping the lines of communication open between parents and teenagers.
1. Pay attention to the small things along with the significant things. If you are generally a good listener, your teen will be more likely to talk to you.
2. When your teen talks to you, pay attention. Don’t be doing something else.
3. If you can’t pay attention right at the moment, explain why. Ask if you can talk about the issue later, at a specific time.
4. Ask questions for clarification, but watch out for coming across as critical. If your teen sees your questions as disapproval, stop asking them.
5. Expect your teen to change his mind frequently. Avoid commenting on the inconsistencies.
6. Express interest and encouragement in your teen’s activities.
7. Accept your teen’s opinions, even if you don’t agree with them.
8. When you talk with your teens and they tell you something that you feel angry or concerned about, refrain from acting out immediately. Set a time to come back to this topic when you are both calm and can really have a conversation about your concerns.
By following these guidelines, you will have a map even when the terrain is difficult or you think it must be impossible to get through the forest (i.e. grouchy, grumpy, hormonal teens!)