It is easy to feel like you have lost your child when he or she starts “growing up.” But this should not cause you to stop talking and sharing. Whether you are dealing with crushes, dating, bullying, schoolwork, or friends, this book shows you how to regain a healthy connection with your teens and last through the turbulence of puberty.
As a teen matures and becomes more independent, it can become harder and harder to talk to them. All is not lost though you are not alone in this quite common, age-appropriate struggle. You just may need to rediscover or reinvent how to talk to your teen.
While teens might seem far away from the sweet, silly kid you once knew, it is easy to get your teens back. You can rebuild trust, reconnect and re-open channels of communication when you start being available for each other again.
Talking with teens can be a stressful time for both you and your teen. Things might not be going the way they should, and it is hard to know how to make them better. One of the most important things you can do as a parent is to be there for your teen through it all, even when it comes to relationship conversations with them. The tips below will help get you started in the right direction.
Why Talking to your kid Gets Hard?
This can be a challenging time for parents and teens alike. Parents may feel hurt, confused, frustrated, and even angry when their child talks back or completely shut them out. But when talking gets hard, it is important to remember that there are many reasons why this gap between parent and teen may have developed.
Dynamic Changes in Kid
Consider the dynamic changes that come with teenagers. They are becoming more independent and need to create their own separate lives. A lot of miscommunications can arise from this process, but teens can be encouraged to channel their energy and creativity into building their own adult-like lives.
While your teens may seem grown-up, there may still be parts of them that do not feel like their own person yet. Parents often have a tough time letting go of the control they had in their teens’ childhood and may still attempt to make decisions for them. Teens also may have limited experience making decisions on their own and may not even know what they want out of life or who they want to be.
It can be hard to keep up with all the changes your teen is going through. As your teen starts feeling more independent, relationships in their life become more important. Helping them feel comfortable discussing these issues and providing support can help them through this period of adjustment.
Why does Talking To your Kids Matter?
Kids want to spend time with their parents and feel close to them. But as teens grow and start making more of their own decisions, it can be hard to figure out when they do (or do not) need your help. The good news is that having honest conversations with your teen can help you keep their relationship in good health.
Even At Puberty Your Child Still Need You
As teens go through puberty and enter their teen years, they often turn to their friends for support. While they may give off the “go away” vibe, many teens are craving parental support, acceptance, and love.
Your teen’s behavior is influenced by how much communication you have with them. Setting up rules, and talking to your teen about their friends, activities, and schoolwork makes it more likely that they will have positive behavior.
The Stakes Are High
Parenting is a big job, and the stakes are high. Kids with parents who have strong parental warmth and effective communication skills are more likely to succeed in life than those whose parents have less effective parenting skills and less involvement in their kids’ lives.
How to Have a Conversation with Your Teen
Your kid is growing up, and you are changing too. You may find yourself struggling to communicate with your teen. Each year that passes makes it more difficult for you and your child to talk openly. This is the time of life when you are both growing physically, emotionally, socially, intellectually, and spiritually. But those growth spurts are not the only things that can bring about a clash between parent and child. While some teens feel as if they have been living in a different country from their parents all along, others change so gradually from child to adult over several years that neither parent nor child notice when it happens.
Focus on Listening
Give your kids the gift of listening. Be present and engaged in the conversation when they come to you with a problem, a question, or an idea. Avoid interrupting with advice, solving problems, or simply doing the talking for them. Let them know you are listening to them by using non-verbal cues like leaning forward, making eye contact, and nodding often.
Pay Attention to Conversation
As the conversation progresses, pay attention to what you talk about, how you talk about it, and how much time is allocated to each topic. Are there specific friends or activities that seem most important? Are there issues that come up repeatedly?
Keep Yourself Cool and Calm
By now, you may have realized that some conversations are more challenging than others. Understanding the strategies that both of you use to communicate more effectively will help prevent these conversations from spiraling out of control. In fact, the less reactive you are in discussions where someone else is angry or hostile, the more likely you will be to get what you want from the discussion.
Do not Push your Child
Do not push your child to share his feelings or ideas. A supportive and open environment is one that allows your child to freely communicate without the threat of being pressured into doing so. Instead of interrogating them or badgering them, give them space in which they can reflect on what they are saying.
Do not Try to Take Over the Conversation
Talk to them, not at them. Many parents are nervous when they talk to their teens in the hopes that they will say the right thing and that their teens will be receptive. Instead, try listening first before jumping in with your input. Give them time to unload whatever is on their mind first before talking about what you see happening or how you would handle the situation differently. Letting teens open up on their own will make them feel comfortable talking to you in the future.
Do not Judge, Be Supportive
By being supportive and understanding, you will encourage your teens to talk openly with you about their feelings. The more you engage in open conversation, the more comfortable they will feel confiding in you when they encounter stressful situations or make mistakes.
This does not mean you let everything slide. Teens need to know that you are there as an ally and you may certainly indicate what your teen or you think about things. However, a gentle approach is best when talking with teens about their behavior, safety, and strong emotions.
One of the most important things you can do as a parent is to show your kids that you are their biggest ally. Sure, they are going to get angry at times, but they need to know that it is okay to be vulnerable with you and that there will always be love, support, and understanding when they need it.
Pause While Discussing
When you ask them what is going on with school or to unload the dishwasher or to finish their homework before playing video games, they may react badly at first or not at all. Wait before you also jump in with a negative response and remember to listen, but also take time to think about your words and decide how you want to handle it.
It is easy to get frustrated with a teenager. They can be hard to understand, and even more, difficult to reason with. Their quick responses can lead you to believe they are incapable of thinking deeply about anything. That assumption would be wrong—more often than not, they are simply trying out an idea and weighing the consequences (even if they do not admit it). What if instead, you give them space to come around to the right decision? Instead of constantly pushing them toward compliance, give them time and space to consider their choices—this is especially important when they appear resistant or unresponsive.
See Them as a Teen Person
The days of you being your teen’s biggest fan are not over. However, the job of the parent is changing. It is time to let go of acting as if you have control over everything your teen does. You might still be the person they listen to most and talk to more than anyone else. But they are adults and entitled to their own opinions and experiences. As a parent, it is important to realize this and start seeing them as their own person with their own thoughts, feelings, priorities, talents, and dreams.
In life and in our homes, we want to be seen and heard. As teens grow up, they struggle to fit in with their peers. And parents can often feel left out of the loop. So, take time to see them as individuals and listen to what they have to say whether it is about the school, friends, or something else entirely. You do not always have to agree or be happy about all their choices, beliefs, behaviors, or ideas but let them know you support them nonetheless (and even join them if you are brave enough). It is important that they know you love them for who they are.
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