Parenting a teenager may be the most frustrating part of raising children.
Many think the midnight feedings, diaper changing, and terrible two’s are hard to get through – but once you’ve had a teenager, you know that those early years are actually the best of times in comparison to what’s to come.
There have been times where I literally wanted to tear my hair out while trying to get through to my teenager.
I know he’s going to make mistakes.
And I also know that we’re at the point in our parent-child relationship where he no longer relies on me to tell him what to do, but rather looks to me for advice and counsel.
When I knew we needed an improved way to communicate, I started to implement these five simple tips to help us better connect.
While there are many ups and downs in the parent-child relationship, communication is definitely one of the most difficult aspects to manage. Effectively communicating with your teenager can often feel like a dream goal that’s out of reach. However, I assure you that it’s completely achievable.
Keep reading to learn how effective communication with your teen can be achieved using these five simple steps.
Here are 5 simple tips for effective communication with your teen:
- Use a calm tone. It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. Never has a phrase been truer than when you are communicating with someone – particularly with a child. If you use a calm, engaging tone, your child is more likely to respond favorably. Raised voices – yelling and/or screaming – will not yield a positive outcome. Children are likely to retreat within and tune out the “noise.” Speak calmly and respectfully for a chance at being heard by your child.
- Use fewer words. Say what you mean clearly, and succinctly, in as few words as possible. Just like the people at the office could care less how smart we think we sound when using big words that require a dictionary to understand, our children are even less impressed when we speak in run-on sentences which seem to have no end. Keep it short and sweet and they may actually listen-in.
- Only give him or her one task at a time. Bombarding a child with 100 things-to-do at once is a one-way ticket to failure. No matter what age your child is – toddler to teen – giving one task at a time makes it easier on both you and your child. Try this method the next time chores need to be done, rather than feeling like you don’t know how to talk so your child will listen because they forgot everything after task one.
- Provide step-by-step instructions. It is hard to remember someone’s specifications, so imagine a child trying to guess all the requirements you’d like them to do – for chores, for preparations to depart, etc – it’s just not going to happen. Instead of the annoyance at your child’s inability to meet your (unspoken) standards, tell them exactly what you want, how you want it, and when.
- Use honest emotions. Let your child know how you feel when they don’t listen to you. Children want to make their parents happy. They want to make us feel good. And they understand how it feels when that doesn’t happen. So, relate to them from an emotional place of honestly asking them to do something for you. Rather than ask how to talk so your child will listen, say how I can relate to my child and build a connection.
Have patience. There will be many days where you’re going to get frustrated. You’re going to wonder why you ever thought it was a good idea to have children. You’re going to feel like you’ve taken two steps forward and three steps backward. It’s completely normal. No, you are NOT the only one. Anyone with a teenager knows how real the struggle can be when trying to communicate effectively with your teen. Just have patience and keep using the tools — eventually you will have more progress than you setbacks.
Carin Kilby Clark is a mom of three, inspirational parenting writer, and author of the forthcoming book Live Joyous Mommyhood. Visit her on the web at carinkilbyclark.com to learn more and join her joyous mamas tribe.
Originally published on Carin Kilby Clark.