It’s no secret that it’s tough to communicate with a teenager. During my 12 years practicing as a licensed family therapist, I have encountered many parents who struggle to make sure their teens are listening. Parents want their kids to learn from their own mistakes, but even the smallest sayings and phrases can cause teenagers to tune out, ignoring their parents’ message.
Certain triggers can cause teenagers to tune out their parents. The following are some tips for parents to talk with their teen effectively:
1. Stay positive – Although your teens’ behavior might hurt you personally, resist the urge to lash out with personal attacks or insults.
2. But don’t get too positive – Strangely enough, too much positivity—in the form of glib statements that “everything will turn out fine” or “it doesn’t matter in the long run”—can be equally frustrating to teens.
3. Use time to your advantage—When emotions are high, it’s best to leave the situation and wait until you and your teen have both calmed down. When both you and your teen are worked up, neither of you will be responsive to what the other has to say.
4. Use timeframes when making requests – Respecting your teen’s time can, in turn, help them respect your wishes, making them better listeners and increase compliance.
There are many additional tips and resources that parents can use to communicate effectively with teenagers. Therapy can be a safe and unconditional space for you to look at which techniques work best.
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