As a parent, you may think your child’s toddler years are the most taxing, but their teenage years can be challenging in a different way. They’re balancing family, school, extracurriculars, and a social life, which makes connecting with them difficult to say the least.
Teenangers need their parents now more than ever, but there’s a good chance you’re the last ones they want to be around. How can you have meaningful conversations that include a healthy give and take? Here are some tips.
Find the right time
It can be a challenge to find the right time to connect with your teen, especially if all they want is to be alone behind their bedroom door. Stay aware and take note if they seem to be open to talking. Whether it’s in the car on the way to the supermarket or in the kitchen when they’re making a snack, seize that moment. Also, keep in mind that your teenager may start a conversation when the timing’s not ideal for you. It’s important to be available, so do yourself a favor and drop everything to listen in these cases. The opportunity may not come again.
As their elder, you’ll want to impart advice or wisdom to your teen during conversations. This can be helpful in some situations, but listening tends to be more important than talking with this age group. During a conversation, listen without judgment, and try to stay open minded and interested.
Keep a level head
If a tough conversation needs to be had, make sure to initiate it when both you and your teen are calm. Avoid getting emotional or stooping to their level if they get passive aggressive or rude. If things get too heated, don’t engage; take a step back to breathe and reset.
Trust your teen
The key to good communication is trust. Teens want to be taken seriously, so find ways to show them you trust them. Ask them for a favor, which shows you rely on them to get it done. If you discover they lied about their plans, share that you prefer the truth over sneaking around. If they lie before they’ve even given you a chance to give your permission, that’s setting a bad precedent.
Of course, these tips may seem easier to read than actually implement. Parenting teens is hard for us all, so having a good, trusting relationship is key. Don’t give up!