Adolescence is a time of significant change for teenagers and their parents. As children enter puberty, they experience physical, emotional, and hormonal changes that can be confusing and overwhelming. At the same time, they’re trying to figure out who they are and where they fit in the world.
This can lead to conflict and miscommunication between teenagers and their parents. Add to that the pressures of balancing schoolwork and extracurricular activities, and it’s no wonder parents have a hard time communicating with their teenagers.
It’s important to remember that communication is essential for a healthy relationship with your teenager. Here are seven ways to improve communication with your teenagers:
1. Talk openly and prepare to listen to what they have to say
Most teenagers tend to clam up when they feel like their parents are interrogating them. Instead of bombarding them with questions, try to have an open conversation where both of you can share your thoughts and feelings freely.
Additionally, be prepared to listen to what they have to say — even if it’s something you don’t want to hear. The journey through adolescence can be challenging, and your teenager may need someone to lend a listening ear.
2. Avoid making assumptions
Try not to make assumptions about your teenager’s thinking or feeling — they may surprise you. If you’re unsure about something, ask them directly instead of assuming the answer. This will help to avoid miscommunications and hurt feelings.
Suppose your teen is now in charter high school and is thriving. You might be tempted to assume that they don’t need your help with their homework anymore. However, it’s still important to check in with them and see how they’re doing. They may appreciate the help and feel more comfortable communicating with you about their schoolwork.
3. Establish rules early on and enforce them consistently
It’s important to set boundaries with your teenager from the get-go and be consistent with enforcing them. This will help to instill a sense of discipline and respect. Of course, there will be times when your teenager may test the rules — that’s perfectly normal.
The key is to remain firm and consistent in your expectations, no matter what. This will help your teenager understand what is and isn’t acceptable in your household and hopefully discourage them from testing the boundaries too often.
4. Avoid nagging
Nobody likes to be nagged, especially teenagers. If you find yourself repeatedly repeating the same thing, it’s time to take a step back and reevaluate the situation. Nagging usually happens when parents feel like they’re not being heard.
If you feel like you’re resorting to nagging, try one of the other communication strategies on this list. Also, make sure to express your expectations clearly and concisely. This will help avoid any misunderstandings and hopefully reduce the amount of nagging that needs to be done.
5. Be patient and understanding
Patience is a virtue, especially when it comes to communicating with teenagers. It’s important to remember that they’re still learning and growing, and sometimes they need a little extra time and understanding. So, if your teenager is being frustrating, try to take a step back and see things from their perspective.
If you can be patient and take the time to listen to what they have to say, it will go a long way in improving communication with your teenager. This will also help them feel respected and valued, which is essential for a healthy parent-teenager relationship.
6. Avoid using ultimatums
Ultimatums are usually the last resort for parents, but they rarely work in the long run. When teenagers feel like they’re being given an ultimatum, they’re more likely to rebel and do the opposite of what you want them to do.
If you find yourself resorting to ultimatums, it’s a sign that you need to reevaluate your communication strategy. Be more creative in the way you express your expectations, and try to avoid using threats or blackmail as a way to get what you want.
7. Choose your battles wisely
As a parent, it’s crucial to pick your battles wisely. There will be times when it’s necessary to stand your ground, but there are also times when it’s better to let things go. If you’re constantly fighting with your teenager over every little thing, it will wear down both of you emotionally and make communication more difficult.
You should also avoid getting into screaming matches with your teenager. This will only worsen the situation, and it’s not likely to lead to a productive conversation. If you find yourself getting angry, take a step back and calm down before trying to talk to your teenager again.
It’s important to remember that communication is a two-way street. So, in addition to following these tips, make sure you’re also encouraging your teenager to communicate with you openly and honestly. This will help to create a more positive and productive parent-teenager relationship.