By Stephanie Camins – MA, LPC
Are you struggling to communicate effectively with your teen? You may go through a period where you’ve been communicating rather effectively with them for years, then we hit the proverbial wall! It seems sudden, but they have been developing right under our noses. They now have the ability to think for themselves and formulate opinions! Suddenly we find ourselves making statements like, “I don’t even know who my child is anymore”, “Where did I go wrong”, “How do I get through to them”…The list goes on and on. Sound familiar?
Getting to Win-Win with My Teen
Communication begins to change for two equally important reasons. Budding teenagers are growing not only physically but mentally as well. Their brains are developing new connections which allow them to think more abstractly. They want more information and are no longer satisfied with basic answers. They are forming their own opinions and need to test the boundaries of their decisions. Second, as all parents are aware, in the teen years, peer groups become central and influence your child’s thoughts and opinions. Remember to choose your battles. Ask yourself, what is your goal as a parent? Is it to teach them to be a critical thinker and make good decisions or is it to always rely on people telling them which decisions they need to make? The better communication you have with your teen, the greater confidence and self- esteem your child is likely to have. A parent who respects their teen’s ability to think through information and make decisions helps lead their child to a greater sense of self.
Six Tips for Communicating with Your Teen
- Have a conversation – Listen as much or more than you talk. This is not a time for lecturing.
- Respect their point of view – you may not agree, but rather than engaging in the shaming/blaming game or coming across as judging their decisions or straight up taking over and telling them how they should think, engage them in evaluating their thoughts and decisions on their own. (Pros/Cons list, etc.)
- Be the adult, teens don’t want you to be their friend (even if they tell you that)
- Use positive forms of communication, focus on positive outcomes
- Be open to spontaneous conversations – in the car, at the store, anywhere.
- Praise, Praise, and more Praise!