We all know that when your children hit those tricky teenage years that having an everyday conversation can become difficult and sometimes even a battle. One thing’s for sure- you and your teen live in two opposite worlds, which can make communicating a real mystery. Here at Tutor Doctor we want to share some ideas on how to encourage healthy conversations and help you improve communication with your teen.
Be a good listener
One of the best ways to improve communication is to simply listen without judgement. Even though it’s your natural instinct to offer your advice and comment on what they tell you- sometimes it is more effective to just let them talk. Try giving your advice only if they ask for it.
Timing is key
Teenagers are often unpredictable, so timing is everything. Try to avoid starting conversations after a busy or stressful day at school. If you want to have a chat remember to give them some down time before asking lots of questions. They will be a lot more responsive if they are relaxed.
If there is one thing we know it’s that teenagers and nagging don’t mix well. You might not always agree with what your teen says or does but lecturing them isn’t going to get you anywhere. It can come across as condescending and hostile- meaning chances are they will have stopped listening after the first 2 minutes. Instead try turning off your parent alarm and meet them in the middle. Learning to negotiate and discuss a situation with teenagers instead of nagging at them is far more effective.
Accept that they won’t tell you everything
It’s important to accept that most teenagers have things that they keep from their parents. It’s completely natural and normal- so don’t worry if you feel like they aren’t telling you everything. Building up trust is a great way to help them open up and tell you more. Start by sharing the kinds of things that you used to keep from your parents when you were their age or what you used to get up to. This will remind them that you were a teen once too.
Ask the right questions
Avoid asking generic questions that result in one-word answers. Loaded questions aren’t a good idea either as they can instantly make teens defensive. Instead try asking curious questions. Take an interest in their everyday life by asking about teachers, friends, subjects and homework. Remember to ask about things outside of school too- this will remind them that you are interested in all aspects of their life. Even if you don’t get a great response it’s important to remain interested. Don’t give up on them!
Talk to them- not at them
One of the most important things to remember is to treat your teenager as an equal. Talking to them, rather than at them is a great place to start. This will automatically show that you respect them and in return they will respect you. Having a mutual respect for one other is key if you want to have honest and open conversations.
Always make time
A really simple way to improve communication with teenagers is by making time for them. Whether it’s an hour in the evening, a 10-minute car journey or a quick coffee- spending quality time together is essential. It will give you the opportunity to listen to what they have to say but also allow for you to enjoy each others company. If you’re feeling brave then perhaps plan a day doing something that they like. This will let them know that you’re actually interested in their life and will also help you understand them better.
If there is one thing we do know it’s that however much they may not show it- teenagers respond best to patience, love and kindness.