There are a few tried-and-true tips that can make the process a little easier.
Spend Time with Your Teen
To begin with, parents and teens can only communicate if they are together. So, create opportunities to be together. Although teens don’t always want to tag along when you are running errands, they’ll be more inclined to go if you add one of their errands to your list. Maybe even suggest the two of you grab a cup of coffee or soda together while you’re out. Being in the car together is a great chance to chat about anything. Just get a conversation started even if it seems inconsequential. This kind of informal chitchat can lead to more in depth discussions.
Be Present in the Moment
Listen carefully and attentively to what your teen has to say. Ask questions and really have conversation. Even if you don’t feel the urgency or importance of what he or she is saying, recognize what they say. Validate their feelings by acknowledging them.
If you finally get your teen to talk to you try to resist the urge to make a point, because how teens communicate and how adults communicate is not always the same. Sometimes they just want to vent and maybe talk it out. They don’t always want you to solve the problem, just listen. If you make the choice to launch into a lecture, you can probably guarantee a shut-down from the teenager.
Look for Clues
When you’re trying to evaluate how teens communicate, consider this: they are almost always anxious about asking you questions, or for permission to do something. Recognize this and don’t cop an attitude before they muster up the courage to ask. Be open to their request and thoughtfully consider it. Even pay attention to body language. Part of learning how teens communicate is understanding that they use body language. So do adults, so be aware of unapproachable postures on your part such as crossed arms and scowling faces.
Have patience with your teen. Allow him or her to offer their explanation or story. Don’t constantly interrupt. Be authentic in your effort to hear whatever it is they want to tell you. The more comfortable they feel, the more they’ll share.
Learning how teens communicate is just as complex as allowing teens to learn to communicate with you. It may take some time to build up from 3 minute conversations to 30 minutes ones. But grab those 3 minute ones whenever you can!
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