Watching a child grow from infancy to their teenage years can be the greatest thing in the world for parents. One moment, you’re witnessing your baby’s first steps or first words. The next, you’re sending that child off to prom, graduation, and the first day of college. The unmatched love and pride parents typically have for their children can make it all the more heartbreaking when children become teens they can no longer seem to reach, let alone know how to talk to. At this stage, teens are pulling away from their parents. They’re looking for ways to try new things and assert their independence. They may be learning to drive, experimenting with drugs and alcohol, falling in love, or engaging in sexual activity. This can complicate parenting, as the decisions teens begin making at this stage can have real consequences. Consequences that should be discussed. But how do you have meaningful discussions with teens who aren’t good at regulating their feelings yet? With teens who seem bothered by everything you say or do? You’re likely wondering, is there any right way how to talk to teens?
Our 4 Tips for How to Talk to Teens to Have Less Conflict
At Pure Health Center, our mental health professionals understand that the teenage years are crucial for interpersonal and social development, self-discovery, and identity formation. We recognize the benefits of healthy connection and communication between teens and their loved ones. This blog explores effective tips for how you can adopt your style to talk to teens fairly while enforcing boundaries and causing less conflict with teenagers.
#1: Show Them They Can Trust You
To many parents, remaining close to their teenagers can seem impossible. At this stage, teens often drift apart from their home life while drawing closer to their friends. They don’t appear very gracious in their rejection of the parental interference they perceive when you try to bring yourself into their world. This struggle may leave you wondering why you must bring yourself into their world while their friends are willingly invited in and welcomed.
Teenagers are open books to their friends. They could spend hours talking to friends through texts and social media messages. Yet, when you ask them about their day, they seem outraged and give you the cold shoulder and an eye roll. If you want your teen to spill the tea and dish details with you as they do with their friends, show them they can trust you. Show them that you take them, their feelings, and their experiences seriously. Put yourself in their shoes. Remember what that felt like when your parents told other people about something you told them in confidence. You can have less conflict with teenagers if you treat the things they’re comfortable sharing with you as privileged information.
#2: Be the Good Listener You Want Them to Be
Many parents teach their young children how to listen and follow directions. They teach their children that it’s polite and respectful to be obedient. To have less conflict with teenagers, remind yourself that even though you’re the parent, you should be respectful to your child. Good listening is respectful. It’s good communication etiquette and how you would speak to another adult, making it a vital tip for how to talk to teens.
It doesn’t mean you must agree with everything your teen tells you. But it does mean:
- Listening without judgment
- Making them feel safe
- Allowing them to speak without interruption, reaction, and interrogation
Listening attentively lets you know what’s going on in your teens’ lives. By knowing better, you can do better. You can protect them when necessary. With a better understanding of your teen, their experiences, and their feelings, you’ll be better able to help them set boundaries. Boundaries regarding behaviors and conversations they will and won’t accept from themselves and others. Better listening can mean a better understanding of what they’re going through and responding with support and health check-ins as needed.
#3: Validate Your Teen’s Feelings
To parents, it can seem like teens sometimes make a big deal out of nothing. But to teens, these crises are everything they say they are. And other teens understand that. This may be a reason why your teen more readily spills the tea with their friends. Teens typically share the same understanding of the nuances of the situation. They more easily relate to each other’s successes and disappointments. Parents may have a hard time doing this, especially regarding disappointments. When our teens are hurt or disappointed, we naturally want to solve their problems. To downplay their negative experiences and feelings. Instead, try showing empathy and acknowledging their experiences as the difficulties they say they are.
#4: Make Time Together For You to Learn How to Talk to Your Teens
Nothing is more important in these tips than learning the specifics of your child and how to talk to them in this teenage stage of life. You can cultivate an environment of having less conflict with teenagers by taking up shared activities and gathering information about your communication successes and flops.
During this stage, spending as much quality time together as possible is crucial. For some parents, this could mean going to the movies with their teens. Even discussing the film afterward allows parents to learn about their teens and the entertainment they like. Movie time could be your time for having less personal conversations while meaningfully sharing your opinions and preferences.
Similarly, if you and your teens enjoy cooking or hiking together, consider using this time to have personal conversations as you’re both comfortable. By doing so, you’re giving your teens more opportunities to open up to you. The more you do, the more comfortable they’ll become with opening up. When you bond, especially over a shared activity, you’re letting your teens know they can be close to you.
Contact Pure Health Center for effective ways to provide teens a safe, supportive space to share negative and positive experiences with you. Our licensed therapists can help you carve out such judgement-free environments. In professionally led teen and family counseling sessions, we equip parents with skills for how to talk to teens. that empowers them to initiate challenging and easy conversations. We guide parents to be as open-minded, attentive, and supportive as possible and offer their teens much-needed stability when they need it most.