Improving Communication With Your Teen

Do you feel like your teen just doesn't want to talk to you? Do you sometimes feel so estranged from your teen that you don't know how to talk to them anymore or what to talk to them about? Below are suggestions to help improve your communication (and your relationship) with your teen:

  1. Listen to your teen. Listening is an act of love. Listening to your teen with your undivided attention and concentration demonstrates to your teen that you love and care for them.
  2. Listen for understanding. The teen years are a time of turmoil and change. This is a time when your child needs you more than ever to be there for them. By listening, you can better understand the issues of importance to your child and the problems and challenges they may be facing. The more you understand your teen's challenges and feelings, the better you will be able to help them.
  3. Improve your listening skills. Most people need to learn how to listen with their undivided attention. Follow the guidelines below to improve your listening skills:
    - Give your child your full attention.
    - Maintain eye contact with your child.
    - Concentrate on what your child is saying.
    - Nod your head occasionally to show your involvement without interrupting.
    - Don't change the subject. Let your child lead the conversation.
    - Do more listening than talking.
  4. Be Patient. Being uncommunicative is very common for teens. Understand that meaningful talks with your teen will occur when they are ready to talk to you, not when you approach them. If your child does not want to talk, you need to respect that. You can keep the lines of communication open by saying, "Okay, but I'm here when you need me to listen." Remember, when they do open up, focus on being a good listener.
  5. Avoid nagging and lecturing. Nobody likes to be nagged or lectured to, especially on a regular basis. A steady stream of nagging, lecturing and negative criticism will stifle communication with your teen. Instead focus on being encouraging, supportive and positive.