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How to Communicate with Your Teen the Right Way

Communicate with your teen effectively, including authoritative parenting

Consistent and open communication is important in any relationship, whether it be romantic, professional, or platonic. However, it is especially important in parenting, when your child is still developing and navigating life’s twists and turns. Even when your baby reaches adolescence, they still need some guidance – although they’ll probably try to convince you that they don’t! If they have a problem, make sure they’re comfortable coming to you to talk about it. And when that time comes, know how to communicate with your teen effectively to work through solutions and strengthen your relationship at the same time. Here are tips to do exactly that, including letting them know you’re listening and using appropriate parenting styles, such as authoritative parenting.

Be Available

This first point goes beyond simply being there when your teenager needs to talk about something serious. Yes, you can do more, starting today. For example, take note of the times of day or settings where they are most likely to talk with you. Maybe it’s right after school, or whenever you’re in the car together.

During these moments, communicate with your teen rather than just listening to the radio the whole time. Ask them about low-stress topics, such as sports, friends, or any of their developing interests. Although you are still their parent, these questions demonstrate a friendliness to your relationship, helping them to feel comfortable confiding in you when hard times happen hit down the road.

Find Something Special to Do Together

Creating a feeling of exclusivity is important when showing your child that they are a valuable part of your life. Even if you see your child for a significant chunk of time each day, the chances are that it’s for routine things like getting ready in the morning or meal times. There isn’t necessarily anything unique about these moments, preventing your child from building a closeness beyond the basic caregiving relationship. As your teen starts to face more emotional and complex situations, they’ll benefit from a deeper bond with you.

To help build this bond now, make time once a week to go to your favorite cafe or hit up a nearby hiking trail for some quality one-on-one time. If you prefer to wind down instead, opt for a special movie night each weekend. There are many inspiring Christian movies to pick that you both will love to watch! Not only does this time together give your teen something to look forward to each week, but it will also show that you love spending time with them.

You’ll also navigate the best ways to communicate with your teen naturally during these moments together. Plus, they’ll realize you genuinely find learning about their life interesting.

Make it Known that You Really Do Listen

It’s very important to give your teen the respect that their difficult situation deserves so do NOT multitask while they confide in you. Instead, give them full eye contact and allow them to completely finish their thought before responding to them.

This point is also important in helping your teen understand that you value their thoughts and feelings. Adolescence is a vulnerable time in life, one in which they balance many expectations, including societal pressures about how they should look. Reassure them that their emotions, are always valid, no matter what.

Respond in a Supportive Way

Sometimes it’s not what you say but rather how you say it that is most important when you communicate with your teen. Be mindful of tone when talking with your child, because being a supportive parent can make all the difference. Harsh reactions can just make a child angry and defensive, causing them to feel as though you misunderstand them.

Also, ask constructive questions rather than loaded ones. If your teen is having problems with friends, asking “what are you doing wrong?” offers an accusatory tone and will get a defensive response. On the other hand, asking “do you have any thoughts on how to fix things?” shows that you don’t blame them and want to see them succeed.

Don’t dismiss your teenager’s ideas either. Doing so will only encourage them to find other outlets for support. Often, the antidote for negativity (or what you may perceive as such) is not positivity, but rather warmth and empathy. Responding with, “you need to be a little more positive!” or “everything happens for a reason” may be truthful but downplays how they feel right now. Instead, identify what they feel and validate it. This will condition them to understand that they can talk with you openly without feeling worse for doing so.

How to Communicate with Your Teen: Find the Balance

You may have been taught that a parent is not supposed to be a friend. While that’s often true, there are many reasons why finding the balance between this and being a parent may help the relationship with your child.

Although there are many parenting styles that you can use, you may find that as your child grows up and more complex that you need to readjust. The four main styles of parenting are:

  • Authoritative
  • Permissive
  • Neglectful
  • Authoritative parenting

What is Authoritative Parenting?

Authoritative parenting is widely regarded as the most beneficial style of parenting. That’s because it balances structure with compassion well. This type of parenting can allow you to provide your child with a safe path for learning while also being a safety net if they falter. Authoritative parents focus on setting realistic expectations for their kids so as to not suffocate them, and actively responds without placing their own emotions before their teen.

To build open communication within your teen in an authoritative style, be human with them. For example, share stories about when you were younger, such as mistakes that you made, especially when similar to your child’s present situation. It can be easy for a child to glorify their parent, seeing them as a perfect being they need to impress and always exceed expectations for.

Final Words to Effectively Communicate with Your Teen

Humanizing yourself will remind your child that, when the title of parent is stripped away, you also have challenges. Be honest about your mistakes. Doing so will likely inspire your teen to be equally candid back.

28 thoughts on “How to Communicate with Your Teen the Right Way”

  1. Openness in communication, mutual loving respect, and listening! This is a very great article and as past middle school and preschool special ed teacher, I agree about structure with compromise. My parents sat down almost every night and asked us individually to talk about our day. We learned we had a voice early in our lives. We are all still close minus our dear, deceased Dad. We also participated in choosing who we would give extra gifts or money at Christmas. My Mom brought home those high school students who seemed to have intelligence but a family which didn’t have resources. We chose at least three families and many of her students to help support their financial needs going into college or a field such as a stewardess (60’s and she was black.) Giving children choices as early as preschool, setting two outfits on bed in morning creates autonomous children who don’t rebel or scream “No!” during the “terrible toddler stage!” I tried to influence parents to do some simple things to change their family’s lives. It is possible by being interested and asking questions when they told me they were having “rebellious kids!” I smiled and listened before suggesting 1-2 procedures to add to hectic schedules. . . This article supports what I believe as an educator and daughter of a high school teacher of 30 years who was beloved and not disrespected since she stayed current and Never said the old days were “good.”

    1. Oh sweet Robin, thank you for sharing your experiences, both personally and professionally. Your ability to nurture and support people shines through in your comment. I’m not editing it, as you suggested, as I adore it – and adore you!

    2. Aww, I am doing my seasonal checking Winter comments and appreciate your warm response for my lengthy message on your blog, Christy. Happy Spring! ❤️🦋🌸

    3. I know you’re busy and that’s very kind of you to pop by to reply, Robin! HUGS for you in this glorious spring season and always :)

    4. This was such a lovely response, Christy! I think I ramble but do hope to encourage through my life experiences. . . But I have learned and admired the women you focus and connect with here, Christy! You have a fantastic network of females, both professional and friends. 👏💖

    5. I’m truly blessed by the women who surround me and who I find out about regularly, Robin! And you’re such a positive soul that you’re one of them xxoo

  2. Communication begins early and often. Nothing is off the table with teens and anything they want to ask is admissible. You can ask them to give you a pass to find out more about it, but you can’t prohibit subjects. Good post. Thanks, Christie

  3. Our child is a fist grader now. The communication cannot be any more intense now, I think. I do not know what happens when children grow up. The tips in your article will be of great help for those yet-to-face years. Wish you a wonderful weekend.

  4. This comes at a perfect time when some of my friends are having communication issues. You knew I needed it. Thank you my friend. Very insightful article.

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