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  • How to Communicate With Teenagers

    Posted on September 23rd, 2014 rudrarup No comments

    Communicating with teensEmploying a few key ideas can make communicating with the teenagers in your life easier and more effective.

    It is Possible
    Teenagers. They eat all the food in the house, talk on the phone for hours, and every time you ask them to clean up their rooms, look at you as if you have just sprouted horns. They can be terse, uncommunicative, and leave you feeling as if they only keep you around for your credit card and your car, and yet children need loving input from the adults in their lives during their teenage years more than at almost any other time. While communicating with teenagers may feel like navigating a minefield, keeping certain principles in mind will go a long way toward smoothing the road.

    “The first duty of love is to listen” – Plato.
    Everyone, it seems, is telling your teenager what to do. Teachers, coaches, employers, and even friends are instructing your teenager every moment of the day. How can you add your voice to this choir without sounding like a drill sergeant?

    The first key is to listen to your adolescents. Really listen to what they have to say, even if you disagree. Allow them to express their feelings safely, without the fear of you jumping down their throat. Listening to teenagers shows them that you respect them as individuals and care about what they have to say. It also lends credibility to what you want to say to them and makes them more likely to listen to you. If you want them to listen to you, set the example by listening to them. Creating an atmosphere of safe self-expression for your teenager is the first step toward having a relationship of open communication.

    Let’s Get This Straight 
    Communicating effectively with teenagers requires learning the fine art of negotiation. Establish some simple ground rules with your teenager when it comes to the way you converse:

    Treat each other with respect.

    No name calling or sarcasm allowed

    Listen carefully to the other person’s point of view

    Your teen may also have some ground rules to add to this list. Let your teenager know that you want to be fair. You may want to write out the rules you agree upon together and keep them posted somewhere visible, like the refrigerator. If you come to an impasse with your teenager, ask him or her to help you brainstorm solutions to the problem that both of you can agree on. Help your teenager feel like he or she has a voice in your home.

    Find Teachable Moments
    Some of the most important conversations you’ll have with your teenager may come at unexpected times, such as when you’re driving somewhere together or cleaning out the basement. Your teenager will decide when he or she wants to open up to you, so be ready to listen whenever that might be. Let your teenager know that you are always ready to listen and try giving him or her the space he or she needs. Try to avoid cornering your teenager and demanding to know what’s on his or her mind (although scheduled family discussions may be necessary on occasion). Like most people, teenagers need time to process what they are thinking and feeling and can’t be rushed. Whenever possible, let conversations between you flow naturally.

    Don’t go for it Alone
    Enlist the help of others when trying to communicate with teenagers. Is there a teacher, coach, or mentor in your teenager’s life who will team up with you to help your teenager make the right choices? Sometimes even the best advice from a parent goes unheard simply because of the source. Find another trusted adult in your teenager’s life to help reinforce some of the messages you have been trying to get across.
    Is your teenager’s choice of friends a hot-button issue in your relationship? Ask the youth leader from your church or your teenager’s basketball coach if they would be willing to talk to your teenager about it. Although you have the most influence in your teenager’s life, you don’t have to be the only influence. Don’t be discouraged if it seems like your teenagers aren’t listening to what you have to say. Say it anyway. They absorb far more than you think.

    The W Word
    Tell them why, not just what. As adolescents learn to think for themselves the old adage “because I said so” carries less and less weight. Teenagers want to know why you have reached a certain conclusion, not just what that conclusion is. Let them in on your feelings and the process that brought you to your decision. Treat your teenager with the respect, if not the privileges, that you would show any adult. Telling adolescents why you feel a certain way also helps them to see you as a real person with your own emotions and fears. As you become an individual to your teenager with your own needs and feelings instead of just another faceless authority figure in their lives, they’ll be more likely to treat you with the respect you desire.

    It’s a Give and Take
    An important message to make clear to your teenager is: with freedom comes responsibility. If you can help a teenager understand that his or her privileges come with some sacrifice, you’ll be able to help him or her take the first successful step toward adulthood. Use examples from your own life when it seems appropriate. You have the freedom of your own car, but also the responsibility of paying for it and keeping it safe. You can stay out as late as you want any night of the week, but you have the responsibility of showing up to your job alert and ready to work each day. Give your teenagers as much freedom as they can handle, and help them to see the responsibility that comes with it.
    In the end, remember that having your teenager question authority (within reason) is actually a good thing. For teenagers, being able to think for themselves and test their independence is an important part of becoming an adult. By treating your teenagers with respect and the willingness to listen, you will not only make communicating with them easier, you will set an important example for them to follow when communicating with others.

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