Talking with teenagers can be a challenge. Parents and guardians of teens often find themselves at their wits end trying to get their point across-especially when guidance and discipline is required. This article provides some insight into some communication approaches that might make talking to teens a little easier when they get into undesirable situations.
TALK TO THEM WHEN THEY ARE READY TO TALK (if it can wait).
When teens get into trouble of some sort, they often expect to get a lecture. So, the moment that you say, "We need to talk", they begin to shut down. You may be able to communicate in a much more effective way if your teen isn't "huffy and puffy". So, try saying, "We need to talk about this. Let me know when you're ready". Try to get them to at least agree that talking is necessary before letting them completely off the hook. After the initial shock of getting out of the lecture, your teen may actually come to you later ready to talk.
RESIST THE DESIRE TO MAKE EVERYTHING "RIGHT" FOR YOUR TEEN IMMEDIATELY (for non-emergent situations of course).
Out of love for our teens, we naturally want what is best for them. However, the way that we communicate this is through telling them what they need to do (they call it nagging). Teens often resist what is being said not because it isn't right but because they feel that their freedom of choice is being infringed upon. They'll often listen a little more if the conversation doesn't begin with a list of what they need to do.
ASK THEM THEIR THOUGHTS ON THE TOPIC AT HAND.
All people want to feel valued and that their opinion matters. Teens are no different. If they are facing a challenging situation, asking them what they think about it might give you a lot of insight into how they perceive the situation. In addition, listening puts you in a position to hear what they already know or plan to do. You may even find that they have thought about some of the same solutions you were dying to give them at the beginning of the conversation! If they have, acknowledge that they are on the right path. A little praise goes a long way and teens still need it.
ASK THEIR PERMISSION TO OFFER THEM ADVICE.
I know. I know!! We shouldn't have to ask our teens for permission to give them life-changing advice. But think about it this way. If you feel that what you have to say is critically important to your teens welfare, you want to increase the likelihood that they will listen, right? After all, it is for their good. By asking their permission, especially if it is the first time using this strategy, you definitely have their attention and they'll understand that you respect them-because you thought enough of them to ask.
If they agree to hear what you have to offer, you'll now get to tell them what you wanted in the beginning-AND THEY MAY ACTUALLY LISTEN! If they don't agree, ask them to share what they think they should do about the situation. The goal is to help and guide your teen-it really doesn't matter who comes up with the possible solutions. In fact, if they come up with them, they are more likely to follow through (humans have a strong tendency to believe what they hear themselves say as opposed to what others say).
LET THEM KNOW THAT YOU ARE THERE FOR THEM NO MATTER WHAT.
The teen years can be full of ups and downs, confusion, and disappointment. Just letting your teen know that they can depend on you can make a world of difference. Don't stop loving them. Love covers all!
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