Although many teens can’t seem to stop talking to their friends, they often don’t want to talk to their parents. A lack of conversation leaves many parents feeling shut out from their teen’s world. There are some strategies you can use to encourage your teen to talk to you.
1. Reflect What You Hear
When your teen talks to you, don’t jump in and automatically share your opinion. Instead, reflect what you hear to show your child that you’re really listening. This can help you develop a more clear understanding of what your teen is trying to communicate.
2. Treat Your Teen Better than a Stranger
It may sound obvious; however, most of us are guilty of sometimes treating those closest to us the worst. While we tend to be more tolerant and polite to strangers, we often aren’t that tolerate with our families. Avoid using sarcasm or harsh words that you wouldn’t say to a stranger.
It’s important to treat your teen with respect if you want your teen to trust you and feel comfortable communicating with you. Don’t respond to disrespect from your teen with equally disrespectful behavior. It will only damage the relationship further.
3. Validate Your Teen’s Feelings
Validating your teen’s feelings doesn’t mean you have to agree with your teen’s feelings. For example, if your teen says he’s really angry about something, say, “I hear how frustrated you are.” Even if you don’t think the situation warrants such a major reaction. Make it clear that your teen’s feelings are okay.
4. Change Your Pattern of Communication
If your current attempts to communicate with your teen don’t seem to be working, do something different. Continuing the same pattern of communication will only continue to yield the same results. Break the pattern and try something new to see if it encourages your teen to talk.
5. Listen More Than You Talk
Listening will get you much further than talking when it comes to communicating with your teen. After all, when is the last time you heard a long lecture that caused you to really change your behavior? Instead of listening to the message, your teen will be more likely to be thinking about all the reasons why what you’re saying isn’t helpful.
Be willing to hear what your teen has to say. Use active listening skills to show that you really want to develop an understanding of what your teen is trying to communicate.
6. Ask Questions that Help Your Teen Reach the Answer
Ask questions that encourage your teen to talk to you. Open-ended questions and questions that encourage your teen to arrive at a solution to the problem are often very effective. Questions shouldn’t be overly probing and shouldn’t be accusatory. Instead, approach the subject with a sense of curiosity.
7. Problem-Solve Together
Teens need to start learning how to solve problems independently. However, many teens lack necessary problem-solving skills. If you try to solve all of your teen’s problems for him, he won’t learn. Give your teen guidance in solving problems and teach him how to solve problems on his own in the future.
8. Build Credibility
One common barrier between parents and teens today is that teens don’t see their parents as credible. Instead, they think their parents don’t understand and can’t possibly relate to what they’re going through. It’s important to build credibility so that your teen will trust your opinion and take your feedback seriously. Your teen is much more likely to talk to you if he views you as credible.
Article credit: parentingteens.about.com
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