If you have a teenager at home, you may be noticing that communicating with him or her can be challenging. As written about in a previous blog post, adolescence is a time of physiological, psychological, and social change. We often hear of the cliché exaggeration that teenagers want nothing to do with their parents. Well, that isn’t quite true. It’s just that teenagers need a different type of support from their parents than they did during grade school years. Parenting practices for children of any age relies on the relationship that parents have with their children. Since teenagers are often interested in asserting their independence from their parents, it can feel like they’re just sprinting in the other direction. Two things can be especially helpful during this period of development. One is understanding what is happening from your teenager’s perspective. The second factor is about communication practices with your teen. The latter is the main focus of today’s blog.
Below are three considerations for getting your teen to talk to you:
- Listen: Take advantage of what may seem like minor or insignificant conversation openers made by your teen. He/she may want to tell you about something that happened at school, a video game, what’s going on with their peer group, etc. By listening and showing interest in what they want to talk about, you invite your teen to share his/her experience with you.
- Ask open-ended questions: “How was your day?” “How has your homework been coming along?” Instead of “Did you have a good day?” or “Did you do your homework yet?”
- Ask about a variety of topics and be sure that your conversations aren’t all about your teenager’s challenges or difficulties. Ask your son or daughter about his or her own interests too.
- Don’t force it: Utilize naturally-occurring opportunities such as car rides, dinner tables, shopping trips, etc. Make time for you to spend with your teenager at least each week. This is not to say that each time the two of you are together you need to be having some deep conversations, but if the two of you regularly spend time together, it provides more opportunities to share thoughts, feelings, and observations with each other. It’s okay if your teen doesn’t feel like talking sometimes. He or she may even shut you out in a way that doesn’t feel good to you as a parent. But remember- you’re the parent and can handle this. Responding with hostility will likely make your teenager less will to share with you and trust that you’re there for him or her.
Do you have teenagers at home? Or maybe you’re a parent of a son or daughter who has recently left the home to live on his or her own? How did you manage your relationship with him or her during those teenage years? Do you have more thoughts on ways for parents to enhance their communication with teenagers? Your feedback is welcome below!
NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!