Problems with Teenagers? Communication may be the Issue.

problems with teenagersTeenagers can be quite difficult to speak with, and the ability to communicate with them effectively can be one of the most valuable skills you will ever develop. When most people think of communicating, they tend to think only of how they can express themselves. While this is essential, listening is even more important.

Developing Listening Skills

Listening is perhaps the most important communication skill of them all. One of the reasons that parents have a hard time communicating with their teens is that they do really listen to them. It can be quite frustrating trying to talk to teens. However, there are some techniques that will help you build a stronger relationship with them and make them open up.

Focus on Your Teens

First of all, you need to give your teens your full attention. This may seem a bit difficult, especially in today’s busy world. People often have a great deal of responsibilities and demands. However, you need to make your teens a priority and listen to them, rather than just hear them. When you take the time out of your day to listen to your teenagers, they will realize that you really do care.

Find Out the Details of Their Concerns

Absorb what your teens are saying. In most cases, what they say will convey how they feel and explain their actions. Teens tend to give short answers to questions, leaving out pertinent details. Thus, it is up to you to get them to open up and offer the full details of their situation.

Do not argue with your teens or disagree with what they say. You do not have to agree with them, you simply have to listen and let them know that you care. In this way, your teenagers will be more apt to express themselves to you. While you should place limits on your teens’ behavior, there are no such things as wrong feelings. Everyone feels the way they do for a reason.

Do Not Ask Questions That Require a Short Answer

Asking questions is crucial in effective communication with teenagers. However, do not ask them questions that will only require a one-word answer. Make your questions open-ended, requiring an explanation. For example, you could ask your teenagers something like “What do you think you could do to help your teacher understand you?” Another thing you could ask is “What kinds of ideas do you have to solve your problem?”

Watch What You Say

Avoid Criticizing 

As a parent, you have the responsibility to guide your teens towards proper behavior. However, this does not mean for you to criticize them. For example, instead of saying something like “You did not clean your room like you were supposed to. You are such a lazy person. You are grounded.”, say something like “When you do not clean your room, I get upset, because then I have to do it.” Chances are, the teen will respond with “I understand. I’m sorry.”

Dish Out Appropriate Punishments

One of the biggest problems that parents often have is choosing appropriate punishments for their teenagers. While parents do need to show teens that there are consequences for bad behavior, their punishments must fit their actions. For example, if teens fail to do their chores, an inappropriate punishment would be to take their game system away for a week.

A more suitable punishment would be to make them do their chores and some of yours for a few days, since you were stuck doing the same. This is called “silent communication”, and it is very effective in communicating with your youngsters. This is because it shows them that they must be held accountable for their actions.

Praise, Praise, Praise

Finally, never forget to praise your teens when they do something good or when they accomplish something. However, make sure to be descriptive in your praise. Let them know that you are proud of them for the behavior and actions that they displayed. All too often, parents see what their teens do wrong, failing to see what they do right.

Teenagers need almost constant emotional encouragement to help them become independent and creative adults. When parents learn how to effectively communicate with their teens, they will be providing that encouragement to them, and the teens will not need to look elsewhere for help. When you utilize the above tips, you will soon be on the right road to effective communication with your young adults.

For further learning on how to communicate with your teen, check out these useful books:

Staying Connected To Your Teenager: How To Keep Them Talking To You And How To Hear What They’re Really Saying Positive Discipline for Teenagers Uncommon Sense for Parents with Teenagers The Anger Workbook for Teens: Activities to Help You Deal with Anger and Frustration


Useful resources:
A Parent’s Guide to Surviving the Teen Years 

Leave a Reply

© 2012 Communication Skills Training. All rights reserved.