How often do you think about teens? Whenever we mention anything about development & communication with our kids we generally always think of younger children. But what about our teens?
Working in the childcare field I’ve worked with teens in a development, management, & mentor capacity. And I can honestly say teens are my jam (that sounds so old fashioned).
Yes, they can be extremely frustrating at times. Though you have to keep in mind that teenagers are constantly adjusting to growth spurts, hormonal changes, peer pressure, decision making, the list goes on & on.
BUT, if you form a bond with them & learn to communicate with your teen then it makes a world of difference. Plus you will be forming real connections as well as teaching lessons & life skills that they can carry through life with them.
As parents we always look forward to when our babies start to show independence. We get so excited when they begin to walk, feed themselves, & talk. But then the tables turn & they become teenagers. That very same independence that you once looked forward to is now pushing boundaries.
I have worked with teens, adults now, who 10 years later still talk about the impact I made on them by just listening. And while that makes me crazy happy it also makes me sad. Because many of them couldn’t truly communicate with their parents.
I don’t want that for you & your kids. So here are my tried & true tips to communicating with your teens. The realistic way. I do have a degree in child development but science isn’t always life.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Which means I will earn a commission if you purchase through those links. This is at no extra cost to you. You can read my full disclosure policy here.
Sometimes the best way to communicate with your teens is just to listen. Don’t constantly harass them with question after question or lectures.
Do you actually listen? Did you pay attention to that random comment they made at breakfast? Take a moment to just listen, something random that they mention may just be a door into something else.
A lot of times we want to put our own feelings into the mix. It’s not about you it’s about your child. Let them express themselves to you without letting your feelings get in the way.
There will be times that what they say will make you go through a range of emotions from angry to sad. That’s ok. Now, is not the time for your feelings though. Acknowledge that you heard them & work together to get through it.
You will need to also control your commentary. We’ve all heard it at some point “you’re too young to understand”, “because I said so”, “when you get older you’ll understand”, “back in my day, I would never…”
Stop saying that. All you’re doing is negating their feelings & putting yourself in the forefront.
Use conversation starters
Think of conversation starters as a communication game. These leading questions are a powerful way to start talking to your teen.
Not, how was your day today. That will just give you a basic “fine” answer. You want to think outside of the box, & ask questions that will get them thinking & talking.
“If you could only eat 1 thing for the rest of your life what would it be?”
Remember, once you ask them, truly listen to their answer. To keep the conversation going & to continue building your bond make sure that you answer the question as well.
Have date night
Never underestimate the power of dates. They are extremely important for couples as well as teens. Set aside time, at least once a month, to do something special. Try to think outside of the box & do something truly fun.
My dad & I had a standing movie day, & I do mean day. Every month (when movies were way cheaper) we would go to the movies & stay from 10am-8pm. It’s a long day but we had a blast watching back to back movies, even if they were horrible. The memories have stuck with me all these years. But what I remember most is how shocked that I used to be at the information that I shared with him & that he actually listened.
Take a moment to think, how much praise do you give your teenager? Do you just say “good job” & move on? Do you take for granted the little things that they do without asking?
Now take another moment & think about how much you nag. At some point we all do it. Cut it out. You can discipline without nagging.
Give them honest praise. It could be for the smallest things but show them that you see them.
Find a common hobby or interest
You’d be surprised at how easily conversation flows when you find something that you are both interested in.
If you’re into art, then take an ongoing class together. If you’re into cooking, look into taking cooking classes or cook from home with a class from Craftsy. Enjoy working with your hands? Build a desk together. Love the water? Become certified scuba divers together.
Slow down & empathize
How many times have you been caught up in life & rushing around only to realize that your teen may have done something wrong or not finished a chore?
So you react & react badly which may lead to an argument. But have you ever stopped to consider, what may be happening in their lives?
Take a moment & put yourselves in their shoes. Remember, what it was like when you were a teen. Did a bad day send you over the edge? Are you stressing about a test? Is your best friend making new friends?
This is the easiest one of all. In order to be able to talk to your teenager you have to be with them.
I understand life happens but make a way. If you have a crazy work schedule & get home late, odds are that your teenager is still up too. They’re naturally night owls. Take 15 minutes before going to bed & just be with them.
At the end of the day remember that yes, you are a parent & not a friend. BUT don’t let forming a bond with your teenager slip you by. That bond will help you to be able to communicate with them not just as teenagers but as they become adults too.
Let’s connect! Sign up now to receive our weekly newsletter filled with inspiration & tips right to your inbox, PLUS get access to my freebie library filled with printables.
Pin for later↓