How To Improve Communication with your Teen
When children enter their adolescent years, they go through emotional and physical changes that can leave them feeling distant from their parents, other family members, and even their closest friends.
If you’re having trouble communicating with your child, you’re not the only one. The best way to communicate with your teen is to learn healthy communication skills that can help you communicate with them on their level. Below, we provide tips for how to communicate with teenagers, as well as helpful resources for concerned parents and teens.
As a parent, it is important to learn how to communicate with a child or teenager and treat them as a “person” to build a healthy relationship. The best way to listen to your child and show genuine support is by putting yourself in your child’s shoes. Think of an example of how you would have liked your parent to speak to you when you had stormy emotions as a child.
Many parents listen without giving the child a chance to fully express their feelings before the child has finished what they need to say. Parents who make the mistake of only focusing on the behavior — “without” listening to their child may find their child is no longer interested in sharing their thoughts or feelings about relationships or school.
This is especially the case for parents who want to establish healthy relationships with teens who end up making the mistake of providing unsolicited advice.
If you’re paying attention, you’ll notice that everyday stressors can cause young people to become overwhelmed. For example, stressed body language, avoiding eye contact, and shutting down communication are ways young people deal with life stressors and traumatic situations.
What is the Best Way to Communicate with Teenagers?
Start by asking clarifying questions when speaking with younger children and teens. Maintaining eye contact is another example of how to show your child you’re listening and that you respect their feelings.
Put Yourself in Their Shoes – Think about what life was like when you were a teen. Your teen’s life is probably just as stressful as your teenage years were, if not even more so.
Ask Honest Questions – Act interested in what is going on in your adolescent’s life. Talk to them about their personal opinions and relationship and give them tips on behaving responsibly while dealing with the pressure of being a teen.
Provide Realistic Solutions to Their Problems – Teens who don’t have effective communication or problem-solving skills are prone to worry and make impulsive decisions that can have disastrous consequences.
Keep communication open with your teen and remind them they can talk to you when they feel angry or preparing to make impulsive decisions.
Don’t Judge – Communicating with young people is a two-way street. Put all judgement aside even if you don’t necessarily agree with your teen’s choices and respect their experience. You must listen to your teenager or adolescent, so they feel heard and supported.
Tips for How to Communicate with a Teen
Set clear expectations for communication
Be clear about what you expect from your teen and explain how you will compromise when inevitable roadblocks in conversation happen.
Take the time to listen to what your teen wants to say when they are talking to get a clear understanding of what they are trying to communicate. Show concern and don’t rush them or attempt to talk over them when they are talking about issues at school or with friends.
Listen, and ask clarifying questions
Many parents find their teens will stop talking or communicating with the parent if they feel the parent refuses to hear what they have to say. Allowing teens the opportunity to express themselves freely and without interruption is one of the most important steps in communicating with your teen. Asking questions is also a great way to not only show that you are listening, but that you are interested in what they have to say.
Behave responsibly and avoid arguments
Try not to let conflicts with your teenager become explosive arguments. Arguments have negative consequences on both sides, and a lack of understanding can lead to a breakup between parents and teens.
Similarly, avoid using sarcasm or criticizing your adolescent openly in front of them where they can hear you – this will probably make communicating with them even worse!
Seek counseling for yourself
If you feel like your teenager doesn’t hear you when you try to explain your point of view and you’re both feeling the other is wrong, take some space and consider talking to a professional about coping strategies and how to deal with the feelings of upset between you and your teen.
Clear conveniently offers a tele-health treatment program for adults who need a little more guidance on how to be a good parent to your teen, and support them in a healthy and productive way.
Bring in a Professional
If you’ve tried to establish effective communication with your teen and they suddenly stop talking, stay calm and contact a professional for help.
A professional counselor or therapist can work with your teen to get through to them. They can facilitate and encourage improved family relationships and good communication between parents and adolescents, as well as help them overcome whatever underlying mental health issues are present. They can also address specific behaviors that need to be replaced with healthier, more adaptable ones.
Clear’s Teen Mental Health Outpatient Program
With two convenient locations in Redondo Beach and Manhattan Beach, both teenagers and families in need of local mental health support are welcomed into our programs. Our approach is individualized and evidence-based and is designed to treat the modern teen struggling with issues related to mental health, gender identity, and more in this digital age. We employ the right combination of structure, accountability, and treatment to address a wide variety of adolescent issues.
- Group therapy
- Individual therapy and case management
- Family therapy
- Multi-family groups
- Academic counseling
- Reinforcement of life skills such as increasing self-worth, setting healthy boundaries, and good listening
- And more…
Teen Issues That We Address
Mental Health – Mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and trauma can leave teens feeling sad, depressed, and like they have no way out. Talking to licensed mental health professionals can help teens find support for dealing with teen mental health issues.
Identity Issues – Many teens and adolescents suffer from issues with their identity as their worlds change. Having certified professionals and fellow teens experiencing similar challenges helps teens struggling with identity issues learn self-acceptance and healthy resolutions to identity issues.
How We Help Parents
Our goal is to repair broken family relationships. While your young ones are working on bettering themselves amongst their peers, we offer several therapeutic services for families to make sure that the integrity of the family unit is maintained after our clients graduate.
Frequently Asked Questions – Teen Mental Health
What are dysfunctional coping mechanisms?
There are many dysfunctional coping mechanisms, but some of the most common include 1) problem-focused coping; 2) avoidance coping; 3) disorganization and chaos management; 4) substance abuse.
What is substance abuse?
Substance abuse is an umbrella term that refers to a wide range of behaviors and problems associated with using substances, including cigarettes, alcohol, drugs (such as marijuana and cocaine), stimulants (like caffeine and nicotine), opioids (like morphine and fentanyl), or any other type of substance. Substance abuse can interfere with your life.
It can cause physical health problems such as addiction to the drug or alcohol use itself; mental health issues like anxiety or depression; social problems like losing friends or being shunned by the family because of behavior related to drug use.
What are common teen mental health issues?
Many mental health issues commonly affect teens, but some of the more common ones include anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It is important to note that not all teens will experience every type of mental health issue at once or in the same way. Therefore, parents and teenagers need to talk about any concerns they have so that they can seek a proper diagnosis and treatment.
What are healthy coping mechanisms?
Healthy coping mechanisms include exercise, meditation or mindfulness practices, journaling, taking deep breaths and focusing on positive thoughts, talking to friends and family members openly about how you’re feeling, and seeking support from groups or organizations that resonate with your values.
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