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How To Talk To Your Teen: 9 Effective Communication Tips

how to talk to teenagers communication tips
Family LifePost Category - Family LifeFamily LifeParentingPost Category - ParentingParenting - Post Category - Tweens & TeensTweens & Teens

Communicating with teenagers can sometimes feel like they are suddenly speaking in a different language. Here’s the expert advise on communicating effectively with a teen.

Teenage is a period of significant growth and change. Not only are they learning to juggle academic demands, new routines and extracurricular activities but they are also beginning to negotiate friendships, peer groups and social networks, complicated further by the online and social media rife worlds they are exposed to. All this in the light of physical, hormonal and emotional changes that are taking place, makes communication during teenage years critical.

We discuss some tried and tested strategies that will empower you to remain connected and curious, as your teen leans on you, their trusted advisor, in navigating these emotionally turbulent yet enriching years.  

Read More: Imagine Your Teenage Daughter’s Potential – Words Of Wisdom From Author Denise Manning

how to talk to teenagers communication tips

Sassy Mama number peach 1Be A “Whole Body” Active Listener

It should come as no surprise that communication comprises just as much listening as talking. While communicating with teenagers, we might add that communication involves a greater proportion of listening than talking. 

What whole-body listening is NOT is, listening as you mindlessly scroll Instagram or social media or aimlessly think about the funniest meme to send to your gazillion WhatsApp groups (even though they might be doing just that – talking to you as they scroll their Snapchats and WhatsApp chats).

When your teenager talks to you, we recommend that you drop what you’re doing and really tune in. As a parent of a teenager, we know those moments when they really approach and open up are few and far between. So, when they make a bid for connection, go all in.

how to talk to teenagers communication tips

Sassy Mama number peach 2Talk Side-By-Side Instead Of Face-To-Face

Having our teens seated across from us while having a deep conversation might just seem like an interview, noble as our intentions are. Conversations had while being “side-by-side” – think, alongside each other as you wash and dry dishes together, wash and chop veggies together or even seated alongside each other while driving – have offered opportunities to open doors to topics of communication and conversation with their teenagers that would seem off limits sitting at a dinner table.

What’s the harm – give it a try and if nothing too deep comes out of it, you got through the dishes quicker with some company and had them doing chores without even realising it!

Read More: Beyond “Beautiful” – 3 Practical Ways To Start Meaningful Conversations About Body Image

Sassy Mama number peach 3Active Listening Involves Paraphrasing Without Interrupting

In the book “How to talk so kids will listen and how to listen so kids will talk” the authors recommended paraphrasing or “echoing” back what your child has said, which we found if used correctly can be a powerful tool to ensure you are on the same wavelength.

By that we do not mean repeating back their exact words, instead paraphrasing the high-level idea and confirming if what you have understood is in line with, they have just relayed to you. 

how to talk to teenagers communication tips

Sassy Mama number peach 4Be Curious And Interested In Your Teen’s Interests

Be interested not just in their lives but also be curious about their interests. Our ardent advice to parents of younger children, is to learn the art of play. Play is the language of kids and when we play, we speak their language – shared experiences bind us together. Adolescence is the first opportunity we as parents are invited to share and potentially develop interests that our teenagers might introduce to us.

Equally important, in households with multiple kids is the importance of 1:1 time, weekly, if possible, ideally over a shared hobby together. Rituals are routines designed for connection. If you think your teenager is too old for family rituals, think again, rituals foster a sense of belonging. It will keep them coming back for more when the going gets tough.

Read More: Raising Resilient Hong Kong Kids By Teaching Them Happiness

Sassy Mama number peach 5Respect Their Opinions, Do Not Jump Into Problem Solving Mode

Erikson’s stages of Development theory explains the foundational role teenage years play in shaping one’s identity. As such, it is really crucial that we respect their points of view, avoid belittling their opinions, naïve as they may be, even if they are stark and in utmost contrast to your own. The eminent Kahlil Gibran wisely said, “You may give them your love but not your thoughts”. 

Often our children are not seeking solutions, they merely want to “get things off their chest” to a safe adult. If you catch yourself going into problem-solving, advisor mode, hold your tongue and stop. Just listen. Once finished, instead of offering a solution on a platter, brainstorm ideas together.

A good question to ask them is, “What do you think?”. Remember, they are more intuitive than we give them credit for, the answers often are within. They often only need your help in guiding them there.

how to talk to teenagers communication tips

Sassy Mama number peach 6Accept, Nurture And Provide A Safe, Non-Judgemental Home And Environment

Adolescence is a time for safe, healthy exploration. This is the time they are exploring choices with ethical and moral considerations and consolidating their value systems. It is our non-judgemental acceptance and warm, welcoming hears and homes that will give them confidence to explore with confidence. Mother Teresa said aptly, “If you judge, you have no time to love”. Most of all, they need our unconditional, unwavering love as they navigate these turbulent times.

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Sassy Mama number peach 7Ask Interesting Questions

The quality of your conversations is to a large extent dictated by the questions you ask. Asking your teenager “How was your day?”, is probably going to a elicit a hasty, “fine” in return. Instead, consider asking questions that will get them excited and talking. We have listed a few here:

  • “Talk to me about something new you learned today.”
  • Share what was the most interesting part of your day and ask them, “What was the most interesting part of your day today?”
  • “What is something that you’ve been working hard on recently?”
  • “What is a hobby that you would like to develop?”
  • “What is something that makes our family unique?”

Sassy Mama number peach 8Have A Question Jar

It is our hope that you have continued to build strong, open, conscious channels of communication with your little treasures. Candid and transparent as your relationship might be, there are bound to be topics that might be too embarrassing for them to ask or for you to respond to, if brought up without forewarning. For those instances, one tried and tested recommendation is having a “question jar” for your teenagers (and that matter, you) to drop questions into. There are only three rules:

  • No questions are off-limits
  • No judgement or reprimanding for being curious
  • Questions to be responded to within a week

Sassy Mama number peach 9Accept Emotions, Set Boundaries And Limit Behaviours

A key tenet of Connection Parenting which we coach parents on is “Accept ALL emotions, limit behaviours”. At the heart of emotion coaching is the principle that “All feelings are welcome”. In doing so, you take away the potential shame around while normalising the tougher and socially less desirable emotions. However, along with this acceptance, you are committing to providing high support to establish acceptable behaviours. Reiterate rules of engagement, household rules, societal norms and most of all, remind them often about all possible consequences of their potential actions and decisions.

Children and teenagers need “roots” and “wings”. It is our time, connection and the strength of our relationships that gives them roots to build their wings to soar and explore. As parents, our biggest hope is that our children grow into empowered, secure, resilient individuals with a strong inner compass.

Do not downplay anything as trivial – when they have earned your trust with the seemingly little things, they will come to you with the big things. And finally, remember, it is never too late to be the parent you dreamed of being, to foster that flourishing relationship with your teenagers.

Read More: 24 Urban Slang Words Every Mama Should Know In 2024

  Main image courtesy of Getty, image 1 courtesy of Getty, image 2 courtesy of Katerina Holmes via Pexels, image 3 courtesy of Getty, image 4 courtesy of Zen Chung via Pexels, image 5 courtesy of Getty

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