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.
I have noticed that certain triggers that can cause teenagers to tune out their parents. She suggests that parents avoid these expressions and topics, which can cause teens to disregard what their parents are saying. Jennie Abito, recommends to following tips for teenagers’ 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. (It’s also important to remember that your teen is only trying to anger you, and he/she often doesn’t mean for you to take the attacks personally.) By giving your teenager seemingly harmless labels like “lazy” or “no good, you can create a self-fulfilling prophecy. Someone who hears over and over that they are a certain way is likely to start behaving that way. Criticisms that a teen won’t amount to anything or that he/she will never accomplish something can have the same affect. Any insult and criticism that’s used repetitively can have a negative impact on a teen during this sensitive time in her or her life.
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. Teenagers want to feel like they’re unique, and their emotions are incredibly personal. They want someone who will listen to them, not try to universalize or trivialize their difficulties.
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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