Every parenting milestone comes with its own challenges. The teen years can be particularly difficult, coupled with raging hormones and unfamiliar emotions. How can you navigate as a parent and communicate effectively with your teen? Check out these communication tips from Family Counseling Associates.
Encourage Family Activities
The more time you spend together, the more opportunities there will be for conversation. Find creative ways to spend time as a family. You may have a weekly movie night, or you may insist on eating dinner together at the table.
Perhaps you and your teen have a common hobby that you can participate in. Get creative, and you’re sure to find ways to spend time with one another.
Make Daily Conversations a Habit
When you get home from work, spend 15 minutes talking to your teen about the day. Make this a daily routine. It may feel awkward at first, but eventually, it will come naturally to both of you. Share events from your day, even if they seem uninteresting. Ask your teenager to do the same. Don’t force conversation, and don’t be afraid of being ‘boring.’ These small moments act as small connections that eventually weave into a web of trust.
Acknowledge and Validate Your Teen’s Feelings
Your teenager’s personal problems may seem silly or inconsequential to you. However, those are real feelings that deserve real respect. Validate your teen’s feelings, even if they seem trivial to you. We all face emotions and experiences that we do not know how to handle at first. Your teen is leaning on you for guidance and support. Provide it.
Lead by Example
Your teenager is becoming more independent, but your work as a leader isn’t over yet. Talk to your teen and your spouse. Be honest abut your feelings or personal struggles (within reason). Stay off your cell phone. Find a balance between work time and personal time. Think about the person you want your teen to be, and emulate that in your own life. If you show positive examples of good communication, your teen will reflect that.
Unplug as a Family
You may think your teenager spends way too much time on the phone or playing video games. The truth is, you probably get more screen time than you realize. Unplug as a family. Dedicate a full weekend to no electronics. Pick a night to put your phones away. No phones at the dinner table or in the living room during family events. Setting guidelines like this will create an environment for face-to-face conversations.
Don’t Make Assumptions
You may assume that your child is going to give you an attitude or act defiantly. While this is a possibility, you shouldn’t approach a conversation with that mentality. This alters the tone in your voice, as well as your body language and directness. Imagine if every time someone talked to you, they spoke with unyielding authority and condescension. Would you respond pleasantly, or would you have an attitude? Give your teenager an opportunity to react in a positive manner.
Work with a Family Counselor
Family counseling is designed to improve communication throughout the family. If you feel like you speak a completely different language than your children, know that you are not alone. Family counselors have specialized training to bridge the gap. In therapy, you can learn communication tools that will work year after year. Resolve conflicts, prevent arguments, and create a more pleasant atmosphere in the household – that’s what family counseling can do for you.
Contact Family Counseling Associates at (978) 222-3121 to schedule an appointment with a therapist near you.