Communication has always been an integral aspect of our lives.
Good and effective communication allows us to express ourselves better and create clarity of thoughts. It bridges the gap between people through a flow of information between them, creating and fostering relationships.
For this reason, we teach our children to talk as soon as they are able. In this way, they would be able to convey their thoughts and communicate their needs. Most children talk to their parents all the time. A good majority of them would feel that every little event is exciting and would need to be communicated and that their parents’ response is crucial. During these formative years, the child begins to understand the world and themselves as well. Unfortunately, all of these come to a screeching halt when kids hit puberty and reach their teenage years.
Communicating with teenagers is more complex. Having effective conversations with them is perhaps one of the most difficult parenting tasks. Communicating with them often involves getting them to talk as well as listen, both of which can be challenging. Considering that communication with teens can be a little tricky, it is inevitable for most parents to experience roadblocks in handling difficult conversations with them. However, keep in mind that having difficult conversations with your pre-teens and teenagers can guide them towards making responsible and sensible decisions that can help them later on in life.
Also, it is worth noting that these conversations can potentially help you strengthen your relationship with your teens. Some of the difficult conversations you may have with your pre-teens and teenagers may involve delicate subject matters such as drugs, mental health, sex, and more. Even something as simple as choosing from an array of international schools in Manila can be quite a touchy subject to discuss with your teen.
However, despite these challenges, keep in mind that supporting your teen through these conversations is vital. This is because puberty is a crucial time where they will make all sorts of decisions. Parental support is important so that they can make sensible decisions and grow into a well-rounded young adult. It may be a challenge to understand where your teen is mentally and emotionally, but always remember that they do not possess the same level of experience and wisdom as you do. Be patient, empathetic, supportive, and understanding so as not to come across as an overbearing parent who keeps telling them what to do.
Below is a list of tips that will enable you to have effective, positive, and productive conversations with your teen:
There may be instances where you ask your teen a question and get a one-word response. At other times, you may even be greeted with silence. If you come unprepared, the conversation may end there—never to be revisited again. That said, prepare your topics ahead of time and have an idea of how the conversation’s flow should go, so that you would not feel like you hit a roadblock should your teen be unwilling to broach a topic.
You may be surprised, but there may be instances where your teen would want or need to talk to you unprompted. Unfortunately, these things may not exactly elicit a positive response for you. It may be that they made a bad decision and would need your assistance in dealing with the consequences. Also, they may have done something that will make you angry. If either of these two scenarios happen, take a deep breath, stay calm and listen. If you get riled up, your teen may hesitate in coming to you with similar issues in the future. Maintain your cool and listen to your teen’s story in its entirety.
You are not always going to see eye to eye with your child. However, there are bound to be issues that affect them that you, as a parent, will feel strongly about. Naturally, you want only the best outcome for them, but being calm and collected should be paramount. Avoid coming across as critical or judgmental as this may deter your teen from bringing up certain subjects again. Do not make your teen feel like they constantly have to win your approval. Instead, allow them a safe space to talk and bring up certain subjects such as friends, crushes, etc., without fear of being criticized or chastised. Make it a point to ask how they feel before making any assumptions or conclusions about their situation.
Parents may feel an incessant urge to reprimand their teenagers if they have made bad decisions or mistakes. However, you have been a teen yourself, and you know how these lectures made you feel. It may be almost impossible to bite your tongue, but at the very least, try to avoid lecturing and listen instead. If your teen makes a mistake, it is more constructive to hear them out first. From there, work to address the issue at hand and come up with a resolution together.
Holding your tongue from giving your teen a verbal lashing does not mean you should not provide support and advice that they need. Ask your teen if they need advice or illustrate what you would do if you were in their situation. Be sure to explain how the course of action you described and recommended can help them achieve a better outcome. However, be prepared for instances where your teen pushes back. If this happens, be willing to listen as there may be supplemental context you are missing.
Always let your teen know that you appreciate them coming to you and opening up. Never make them feel like their problems are inconsequential and small. Also, avoid making them feel like their issues are cumbersome. They should never feel like they are burdening you with their emotions or what they have to say.
There are times where, despite your best efforts, teens would just not engage with you. It may leave you feeling frustrated and disappointed, but instead of asking them hard-hitting questions, loosen them up with light and fun questions. Teenagers tend to avoid upsetting or embarrassing topics—especially if they are initially raised by you. So, open your conversations with some lighthearted fun. Alternatively, you may also try the following tips below:
Observe your teen’s interests and hobbies as this gives you common ground. Also, it helps you come up with things to talk about with them that show you are interested in what is going on in their lives.
Make a mental note to regularly ask your teen open-ended questions. In this way, you can let them know that if they do want to talk, you are not only willing but happy to listen as well. Having regular talks with your children does not only strengthen your bond, but it also helps you stay connected with them as well. Also, it helps them feel comfortable coming to you in the future as well.
Teens use various mediums to communicate with their peers. It may be that they do not wish to have face-to-face conversations concerning difficult topics with you. If that is the case, try and communicate through chat or text messages with them as they may feel that this is a better avenue for talking about touchy and tricky topics.
If your teen refuses to talk to you, suggest other adults they could talk to. It may be a relative, teacher, counselor, or neighbor they feel more comfortable opening up to. However, always remind them that you are willing and happy to listen to them whenever they are ready to talk to you.
As parents, wanting the best for our children is normal. Wanting the best for them means ensuring that they make the best and most appropriate decision possible. To do that, we need to be able to have difficult conversations with them effectively.
At Reedley International School, we understand the importance of communication between students and their parents. Our school aims to cultivate your relationship with your teen by supporting it with effective communication techniques. Here at Reedley International School, we are committed to helping parents foster strong and positive relationships—one that starts with effective communication.