As your child enters their teenage years, many parents struggle with how to talk to them.
Gone are the years where they tell you everything about their school day and can’t wait to see you in the evenings. Instead, you are faced with feeling lucky if you get an eye-roll or a grunt in response to a question! So, you may be wondering how you are expected to know what is going on in their lives?
The key to communicating with teenagers is to establish patterns early on. Start conversations with your teenager, maybe about a newspaper headline or something you have seen on the television. Don’t begin by asking any questions they might not wish to discuss.
Once a conversation is established, there are two important things a parent should remember:
- Don’t rush the conversation
For instance, if your child tells you that they hate school, it’s important not to dismiss this. Instead, empathise with them and ask if they want to talk about it or if there's anything you can do?
Set aside fifteen minutes of your time to listen to them. Be late for something else if needs be. If you tell them you will talk about it later, you might not get that moment back.
Other tips for talking to teens include:
- Know their friends and mention them by name. This will show interest and prove that you do listen to what they are saying.
- Teens will like to know about your past, however many parents aren’t comfortable with this. You don’t have to tell them everything but maybe share some details such as tell them about your first boyfriend.
- Remember that exams and homework, while important aren’t everything. Reward them for effort, not results. Not everyone is an A student.
- Make it a regular habit to do something together, every four to six weeks. Maybe go for lunch, go for a walk or go shopping.
- Have as many dinners together as you can, turn the TV off and just talk.
Keeping a strong bond with your child during this turbulent time (for you and them!) is really important. It is a closeness that you will hope continues into their adult years.