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Every parent would love to be given the book “How to Talk to Your Teenager” before the going gets tough, but if you learn some simple tools before they hit 13 years of age, you’ll survive it just as many parents have before you. Teenagers have a lot going on as they try to figure out their own identity in this great big world. Talking to your teenager does not have to be a dreaded experience and even the shyest of parents or those without essential communication skills can get their teenager to open up. While regular communication is important in families, you can learn how to talk to your teenager in a variety of ways.
Put Aside “Special Time” For Them
Teenagers feel more at ease when they spend more time with their parents. This does not mean hover over them or monopolize their ‘teen time’, but rather make special time for just you and them. If you have more than one teenager, make time for each teen separately. “Special time” is dedicated time together where you can work on a project, cook something together or just simply enjoy hanging out. When you have this time together they may feel more relaxed and may even share some of their thoughts, ideas, goals and problems with you.
Be Available All the Time
Whenever your teenager comes to you for anything, be available. This is an effective way to help your teenager feel comfortable enough to open up. When they ask you a question or just want to chat about random things, become interested and answer them. Even if you don’t feel much like talking, listen effectively. Teenagers will only open up to their parents if they know the “door is always open” and that they can come to you, for anything, at any time.
Look for the Conversation Openings
Parents tend to miss these little openers when they come about. Your teenager may be trying to open up to you, but you just don’t notice. Listen to their questions and see if they are trying to start a conversation with you. It could be anything such as, “why are boys so mean? Or why are girls so concerned about their weight?” They may be trying to reach out to you for advice, but not know exactly how to do it. Keep your ears open.
Don’t Try to Fix Everything Every Time
Avoid offering advice and solutions to every issue your child ever comes to you with. Sometimes teenagers, just like adults, need to vent their frustrations, anger, and upsets. Sometimes they may feel the need to be over dramatic when telling you about a problem or issue but avoid an immediate rescue. Do not jump in to fix and solve their problems for them. They probably just want to get things off their chest, be heard and to talk it out. Be there for them, listen and let them talk openly to you without and judgment.
Learning how to talk to your teenager doesn’t have to be difficult. If all else fails, just use active listening skills and give them as much support as possible. Your teenager will open up to you at some point, just let it happen when it happens.