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Communicating with Teens
Fear not the teenage years! We've gathered six of our best tips to communicate with your teenagers.
When talking to your teen, do you ever feel like the unseen teacher in the Charlie Brown cartoons? "Mwah...mwah...mwah....mwah." Sometimes do you feel like you're speaking a completely different language? It doesn't have to be this way.
Tricks that Make Things Less Tricky
Having worked with teenagers for years (and now, having three of my OWN), there are a few tricks I've discovered, which will make navigating the teen years much LESS tricky! You really can enjoy the teen years.
While it's best to build a foundation of good communication with your kids when they are young, and keep that growing through the years, it's never too late to learn better ways to communicate.
Our 6 Best Tips
1. Watch your body language. How you move says a lot about you. When a person is tired, they tend to slump. When angered, their jaw muscles tighten and eyes narrow into slits. Teenagers are keen at interpreting body language. Yours will betray you when you are talking to them. Keep it open and honest. Avoid sitting with your arms crossed, eyes looking away from them or squirming in your seat.
2. Make eye contact. When you don’t look at the person you are talking to it says that you are either hiding something or you are not at all interested in what they have to say. Teenagers may shut down emotionally when they suspect that you are not “tuned in” to them. Sit comfortably and give your teen undivided attention with consistent eye contact. It lets them know that you care.
3. Keep your emotions in check. Remember back to when you were a teenager. Some of the things you said to your parents were aimed at freaking them out. Teenagers will push your buttons if they can. Don’t go overboard and get upset. Their target is the situations they know make you mad. Instead, take a deep breath and ignore the taunt. Do the opposite of what they expect because really, they want you to see through their ploy and find out the real problem.
4. The Two Second Check-In. ALWAYS ask your teen about his/her day. Even if your teen only grunts or says the obligatory, “It was okay,” ask anyway. Your show of caring will go a long way to convince them that you are interested in the things that they do and how they feel. This technique works with spouses also.
5. Be honest with your teen. Teens know when you are being insincere. Be a direct and developmentally appropriate.
6. Privacy, please! This one is tricky and since you know your child better than anyone else, you know where to draw the line. Teens value their time alone. While the policy in your home may be that there are no locks on the doors, always show respect by knocking before entering. If they don’t want to be pressed about a situation in school, wait until they are ready (if it’s not urgent) and then talk about it. Giving a little time and space, and allowing teens to speak to you in their own time and on their own terms, can make a world of difference. I cannot underscore the importance of this one enough. Timing is everything! Let them talk on their terms and in their time.
Parenting a teenager can be a wonderful and fun adventure. Whatever you do, don’t ever stop talking.
As always, from Kidlutions, we wish you Happy Parenting and Teaching,
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