Teens can be hard to talk to. Adolescence is a period full of eye rolls, heavy sighs, one-word answers, and sarcastic responses. But don’t let your teen’s hard exterior stop you from communicating. Your teen needs your love, guidance, and listening ear more than ever. Here are some tips for keeping the conversations flowing:
Be Open for Discussion
Create an atmosphere in which your teens can talk to you about anything. Explain to your children that there is nothing they can’t share with you, nothing too shocking or embarrassing. It helps to let your teens know this before they reach adolescence, so they have plenty of time to test this out and discover that they really can trust you with their innermost thoughts. However, it is never too late to institute an open-discussion policy. And don’t wait for them to start the conversation. Start conversations about important subjects like sex, drugs, alcohol use, and relationships on a regular basis.
Pick the Right Time
Many teens will clam up when faced with a barrage of questions right after school or following an event. Give your teen a little time and space to cool off and decompress. Then, casually ask how things went when your teen is more relaxed and receptive to talking. If you’re the parent of a night owl, this might be late at night when everyone else is in bed, though some teens are more ready to open up while relaxing after dinner or even the morning after an event/occurrence.
Let Them Vent
As a parent with bills, responsibilities, family concerns, and aging on the mind, some of the things that bother your teen may seem trivial. For example, you may not want to listen to complaints about your teen’s teacher, little sister, or inconsiderate friend when you’re staring down this month’s electric bill. But take the time to listen anyway. This is one way to learn what is going on in your teen’s life, get to know how he or she thinks, and help him or her deal with the pressures that go along with adolescence.
While there will be many times when you need to instruct, inform or reprimand your teen about something, that should not make up the bulk of your conversations. Let loose and show a little personality. Let your teen see your fun, wacky, funny side. Show a little vulnerability too, and admit that you don’t know everything and are not perfect. Showing your teen that you are human and unafraid to show it may just encourage him or her to open up to you.
What tips can you share for talking with your teen?