Forget the terrible twos, what about the tumultuous teens? They often seem like a completely different species than the beautiful, loving child that wouldn’t give you a moment of peace.
As they hit their teenage years, they can tend to become like a stranger who only acknowledges you when they’re hungry or want a ride someplace.
It can be difficult to know how to talk to teens when you can’t get them to look away from their phone to give you a reply.
Check out these tips on how to talk to teens and make a meaningful connection rather than just grunting replies as they slam the bedroom door.
1. Be Available and Present
One of the biggest things you can do to help open communication with teens is to simply be there and be present. Unplug from technology and turn off your phone for a few hours and be available for them to talk to when they’re ready.
Many families spend days on end at home without actually talking to each other at all. Everyone sits in the same room while talking on the phone or social media to people around the world without ever connecting with the people right beside them.
Putting your phone down and giving your teen your completely undivided attention can be one of the greatest gifts you can give them.
2. Spend Quality Time Together
Teens are more likely to talk when you’re doing recreational or fun activities together than if you force the conversation. If you want them to open up to you then you need to give them a relaxing environment to do it in.
Spend time doing things they like to do, start having a weekly game night or set aside a day each month where the two of you hang out and just enjoy each other’s company.
3. Take an Interest in Their Interests
You may not like video games or going shopping at the mall but if those are the things your teen is passionate about then you’ll get them to open up and feel connected to you if you make an effort to take an interest in the things they like.
Attend their sports games or art shows and see the environment and people they spend time with. Learn the names of their friends and show an interest in what is going on in their social group.
Showing you care about them, their interests, and their friends can do more for opening up communication than any amount of interrogation about what they are doing and who they are doing it with.
4. Learn How to Talk to Teens Without Judgement
If your teen feels like they are going to be judged or get into trouble for the things they share with you, they aren’t going to be very forthcoming with what’s really going on with them.
It can be hard not to pass judgment on choices they make and you may be dying to tell them to make better choices. You can certainly give them advice if asked but you may find they open up to you more if you are there to listen instead of to preach.
5. Admit You Don’t Know It All
You are the parent and have a lot more life experience than your naive teenager but that doesn’t mean you know everything. Admitting that you don’t can be a huge step in making them feel comfortable talking to you about the things they don’t know.
Sharing your personal shortcomings and mistakes can help them feel more at ease with sharing their own struggles and mistakes.
6. Remember What Being a Teen is Like
You were a teenager once. You rolled your eyes at your parents and tried to get away with things when you thought you could. You learned in your teen years how to make decisions and choices for your own life and need to remember that when your teen is trying to figure out their future.
Your teen is more likely to share details about the trouble they’re in if you are willing to recall mistakes you’ve made and poor choices that sometimes come with being young.
7. Realize the World Has Changed
It’s good to remember what being a teenager was like but you can also benefit from realizing it is a very different world today than it was 25 years ago. The internet and social media have changed how we perceive the world and ourselves.
Teens today have the entire world of knowledge at their fingertips and a lot of the information they have access to is confusing, incorrect, or bias. Some of it is even dangerous and harmful to their mental health.
While every generation had their own challenges, teens today have pressures and influences in their lives that previous generations were sheltered from.
8. Listen to Understand, Not to Respond
Sometimes what your teen needs most is a compassionate and understanding ear rather than advice or intervention to fix their problems. You may want to jump in and intervene but this can lead to your teen not coming to you next time they have a problem.
When your teen tells you something, it isn’t always because they want you to fix it or become a helicopter parent that doesn’t let them move without an opinion from you. They may just want to share how they feel and what is happening in their life.
Often talking about a problem can bring relief without any action other than lovingly actively listening to what they have to say.
9. Ask What They Need
As parents, it’s hard to see our children, no matter how old they are, suffering or going through stress without trying to fix it. We often think we know what they need and how we can help.
We all have different ways of accepting and appreciating love. Learning the language of loveyour child best responds to will help you react in the way that is most effective for them.
10. Be Positive
No matter how frustrated you are by the choices they make or the information they share with you. Try to be positive when giving feedback.
You don’t have to agree with what they say or do but find something positive to focus on and they’ll continue to feel comfortable coming to you with their thoughts and problems in life.
Love Above All Else
The greatest thing you can do is learn how to talk to teens with unconditional love. You can be their greatest ally and closest confidant if you are open to listening and learning from them while sharing the authentic and real you.
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