How can I communicate effectively with my teenager?

Are you currently having difficulty with finding effective ways of communicating with your daughter? A lack of communication with parents can be based on various issues such as adolescent or teen girls feeling that their parent’s will not be able to understand their feelings or experiences.

Girls may be concerned that whatever they disclose to their parents may lead to automatic judgment or criticism from their parents. It is common for adolescent and teen girls to confide in their friends as an outlet to vent their feelings.

Additional concerns that may arise with girls not being comfortable with talking to their parents can be that they may feel that their voice is not being heard or that no interest is shown.

Healthy communication tips with your teen

1. Listen with an open mind– If your child is coming to you to discuss concerns or something simple as how their day went, its a good sign that they are comfortable with having a conversation with you. Children feel interrogated or uncomfortable if they feel that they are constantly being questioned. It is understandable that parents want to know everything that occurs in their child’s life. However, an effective technique would be to simply ask “How are you feeling” or “How was your day? By asking some of these questions, will make it easier to flow into a conversation.

  2. Use affirmations– It is important to acknowledge the strengths of your teen by recognizing their efforts. Whether it is your child making the honor roll, completing their chores, or earning an award, it is important to say words of affirmation such as “I am really proud of you” or “You are awesome”. When children and teens receive compliments and praises, it gives them a sense of high self-esteem and confidence. In addition, implementing positive statements also helps children become aware of their strengths and talents. This will also help teens and parents have a healthy bond.

  3.  Spend quality time together– Being a parent and juggling work life can be overwhelming. It is important to find time together with your teens. Spending time together can look like eating dinner, having movie or game night, going bowling, spending time at the park, etc. When more time is spent among parents and their teen, the teens will be more open to communicating with their parents.

  4. Don’t emotionally react or engage in a shouting match– It is difficult to not be on the verge of panicking when your teens make a decision or engage in behaviors that are not the best. It is not easier said than done, however reacting by yelling at them and being emotionally upset may push them away.  It is helpful to address situations when both you and your child are calm. Addressing the situation when you are both angry can result in a shouting match and a power struggle which are neither effective ways of communicating. In addition, having an awareness of where your teen’s behaviors stem from whether sitting down and engaging in a conversation with your teen or seeking out therapy for them to release their feelings.

 5. Be clear about boundaries and expectations– Consistency is the key. Laying out expectations for your child to follow at home and school has no guarantee that your child will follow the rules, however, it lays out a framework of the importance of values and following rules. In addition, it is important that consequences are discussed and implemented immediately so that your child is more likely to make healthier choices.