Facing the infamous teen eye roll and slammed bedroom door can be hard for parents. It is often a stark contrast to how your teenager interacted with you as a younger child.
Learning to communicate with your teen will help you get to know each other in a new and different way. It will also help them feel like they can come to you with hard or scary conversations.
Being available to talk is key. Try not to let your frustration or sadness about your teen’s behavior get in the way.
Sound easier said than done? Start here.
- Drive. Take your child to school. Pick them up from a friend’s house. Go for a drive to get ice cream. Talking in the car creates a different feel than other more direct face-to-face communication.
- Do dinner. Every day if possible. The benefits of dinner as a family are many. Even if all family members are not present, still have dinner with everyone who is at home. Make it your family ritual.
- Ask real questions. Avoid asking “How was your day?” This gives your teen opportunity to say “fine” and shut the conversation down. Ask open-ended questions that seek more than a grunt or yes/no answer. A few examples: “Which class was the most fun today and why?” “What was the hardest part of your day?”
- Talk about their interests. Even if they are not interesting to you. As a teen counselor, I talk a lot about video games with my clients. I use these conversations as a way to build rapport. Sometimes, I can even incorporate them into therapeutic conversations! If your teen is an avid Instagrammer, ask to see their favorite or most recent photo. Inquire about who praises their work online. This can help them build self-esteem outside of the internet world. If your teen is in the chess club, have them teach you to play. Letting teens feel like an expert builds self-confidence.
I want to hear from you! Please share your ideas and stories about communicating with teens!
She is dedicated to helping teens and families be happy and healthy!