Admit it. It can be so hard to communicate with teenagers.
Their attention is normally focused on things that usually annoy parents – smartphone, television, social media, or play station. Sometimes, they even pretend like they can’t hear you by turning up the volume of the music. What makes it even harder for parents is the fact that teenagers are very secretive and sensitive to topics – such as academics, love, dating, sex, relationships, depression, and drugs. Seriously, how can you talk to your teens about these sensitive topics if you can’t even make them talk about how their day was?
The secret? Do it the right way.
Establishing better communication, especially between a parent and a teen, is the key to a healthy relationship. So, start with a simple conversation.
Start the conversation by talking about sports, weather, hobbies, books, etc.
Talking to your teens doesn’t have to be groundbreaking. Also, topics don’t have to be unique. Engage them in a healthy conversation by picking a topic that they enjoy talking about or anything that won’t make them feel like you’re ready to deliver your lecture for the nth time. Teens never want to be lectured. So, always remember to keep the conversation light and casual.
Ask “indirect questions” instead of quickly getting to the point.
As badly as you want to gather information about what your teens are doing and their whereabouts, do not let your anxiety get in the way. For example, instead of asking “Did you drink from last night’s party?”, you might inquire, “Who went to the last night’s party?”
Don’t make it appear like you’re just probing information. Teens are more likely to talk to someone they feel they can trust. So, don’t hurry. Take the right steps. Sooner or later, your teens will start spilling information before you even ask for it.
Avoid distractions and give them your full attention.
Though teens might act uninterested most of the time, they are very sensitive to rejection or seeing someone not interested when they’re talking. If you want to engage your teens in a productive conversation with you, start by not just being physically present. Clear your mind and focus all your attention to listen and to understand them.
Once your teens start talking, DO NOT INTERRUPT.
If you don’t want your mission to fail, make your teen shut down once again, and end the dialogue quickly – do not interrupt your teens when they are talking.
Whatever that is in your head and no matter how badly you want to say it, shut your mouth for a while and keep listening. Teens love to express themselves. Hear them out and make them feel that you are there to understand and support them.
Keep calm and don’t be judgmental.
Adolescence is the time your teens experiment on new things. Hence, it is inevitable that they commit mistakes. No matter how small or big their mistakes are and for whatever reason they did what they did, hear them out before getting into a conclusion. Never ever judge them. Try to remain calm and address the situation in a very appropriate manner. Teenagers, when they get even the slightest inkling of disapproval, will most likely end the conversation.
Finally, don’t overreact.
Teens might be upsetting, sometimes. They can make you angry. However, don’t let your emotions drive you away from building a healthy conversation and relationship with your teen.