Even when your teen doesn’t have the headphones for her mp3 player in her ears, it’s easy to feel like she doesn’t hear a word you say. As challenging as this phase can be, it’s a normal part of growing up for a teenage girl, according to Daniel Martineau, M.D., a pediatrician at University of California Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, on the University of California Davis Medical Center’s website. Pulling away from your parents is just one part of your teen’s growing independence and developing sense of self -- a fact that means she can benefit from your parental input now more than ever. Changing your conversation tactics to acknowledge her growing independence can help ensure that your teenager is listening to what you have to say.
Fine-Tune Your Own Listening Skills
If you want your teenage daughter to listen to you, be sure you’re listening to her. According to Maria R. de Guzman, Adolescent Specialist, and Kathy R. Bosch, Family Life Specialist, writing for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension, listening to your teenager is the single most important way to ensure meaningful conversation with her. Bite back the urge to jump in with advice or recommendations while your teen is talking and focus on really listening to what she has to say. Not only will you be modeling the kind of listening behavior you’re hoping to get from your daughter, you’ll also be showing her the kind of respect that can make teenagers more inclined to listen to what you have to say.
Engage in Dialogue, Not Lectures
In general, you should talk to your teen the way you’d like someone to talk to you -- and that means acknowledging her feelings and avoiding overly critical comments such as “I can’t believe you’d be so stupid” or “Haven’t you learned anything?” Often, the less you say, the more likely it is that your teen daughter will listen to what you say. When in doubt, Martineau recommends simply expressing your feelings -- “I’m angry that you lied to me” or “I’m worried that you want to go to a party where there’s going to be drinking” -- and postponing more detailed discussions until you’ve had a chance to get your thoughts in order. During your conversation, give your teen plenty of opportunities to chime in with what she’s thinking and feeling, too. If she feels like you’re tuned into what she’s saying, your teenager is more likely to listen to you.
Resist the Urge to Argue
Sometimes, it’s better to take a break from a conversation for a little while than to keep hammering away at a topic where you and your teen disagree, say de Guzman and Bosch. If your teen’s temper is hot or she’s feeling depressed or frustrated, she’s not in a good place to listen to anything you say. Instead of pushing the point, give her -- and yourself -- time to cool down.
Don’t Crowd Her
Your teenager may not always be ready to participate in a conversation -- and that’s OK. Sometimes, just spending time with your teenager can make her more receptive to tuning in to future conversations, says Christy Buchanan, associate professor of psychology at Wake Forest University, in a 2004 Wake Forest press release. Buchanan recommends using non-verbal cues, like putting your hand on her shoulder, to communicate how much you care about your teenage daughter.
It may feel like you’re talking into a black hole sometimes, but don’t give up. Parents who talk to their kids are likely to be closer to them, even when those conversations are disagreements, say de Guzman and Bosch. To maintain a close relationship -- and increase the chances that your teenager will listen to what you say -- be sure that you make plenty of time to talk together about everyday topics, like favorite television shows or fashion trends, as well as serious issues.