Talking to your teen is so important…and can seem incredibly daunting. Maybe you have a feeling that something is upsetting them, or their mood seems to have changed. Maybe they’ve stopped talking to you recently. Or maybe you haven’t connected with your teen in a while. It’s important to stay connected with your teen and what is going on in their life so that you can provide guidance and support so they can succeed in their teenage years. Here are some tips for talking with them:
- Do something with them
Sitting down just to talk might feel like an interrogation to them. They (and you) may feel more comfortable doing an activity that you can talk during. For example, playing a game of basketball, shopping,
- Talking and checking-in on a regular basis will make a routine and regular thing of talking
Use everyday time together such as family meals and driving places as a time to chat
- Talk about things that make them happy
It’s best not to go straight to what may be making them upset or to addressing something they may have done wrong
It sounds simple, but your teen will know if you are not listening, and if you are not, you will have an increasingly harder time getting them to talk in the future
- Don’t ask accusatory questions
Instead, ask questions that sound like you are curious
- Listen to what they may not be saying
Hear their tone and emotions: do they sound angry? Sad? Overwhelmed?
See their body language: are they closed off with their arms? Are they facing you, or can’t seem to look in your eyes?
- Teens will often speak to you like you speak to them
If your tone is angry, they will mimic that, but if you are calm and understanding, they might reciprocate that also
- It takes time
If you haven’t connected with your teen in a while, warm up to it by checking in with how their day has been, and lead into longer and more in-depth conversations over time
- Give them your full attention
No cellphones allowed
Nothing is more important than connecting with your teen – distractions can wait
If you feel that talking to your teen or addressing an issue are at an impasse, you can always get outside help like a mediator to get the discussion going about any conflict there might be.
Every Saturday I post a new blog about bettering communication with your teenager, so subscribe or check back weekly.
REW Youth Mediations Services is the only firm in the Kingston area that offers mediation and conflict coaching services to youth in conflict with their family, peers, or the law. Our goal is to help youth look at their conflict different so that they can resolve their present issues and conflict and communication tools so that they can confront situations differently. Ultimately our goal is for youth to stay out of criminal activity and have the most successful futures that they can dream of.
For more information on our services, contact Rebecca Wettlaufer at Rebecca@REWyouthmediation.com