What Parents Can Do To Improve Communication with Their Teen

Improving communication with your teen can be challenging, but never-the-less, one of the most important things you can do to have a strong, long-lasting relationship.  The trouble is, it can be hard to get children to talk once they hit the teenage years.  What can you do about this?  Below are 5 things you can do to improve communication with your teen.

1.  Make time for them: Young children spend a vast amount of time with their parents because they depend on them for ongoing learning and safety.  Develop routines or schedule specific times when your teen can count on having your attention.

2. Make it safe for them to share: A young child shares their joys, needs, excitement, and fears more freely than teens.  Getting your teen to share requires “trust”.  Trust often comes when parents listen without judgment.

3.  Share your values and beliefs: Listening without judgment does not mean that you can’t express your values and opinions. Take advantage of “teachable moments”.   Talking with your teen about important issues at informal and random times takes the emotional energy out of the equation.  Try talking while you are riding in the car together, or doing a fun activity. You will be surprised how much they open up!

pictograph of talking people
Image via Wikipedia

4.  Be yourself: Express pieces of who you are with your teen. We all feel closer to people when we share in their joys, disappointments, and interests.  Not only will you model appropriate disclosure, but you will build value and trust with your teen.

5.  If All Else Fails, Enjoy the Silence: Sometimes your teen just won’t talk, and sometimes that is just fine. Let them know that you are there for them when they are ready to talk and try to enjoy the silence. Try watching a movie together or going to the bookstore. Sometimes, those settings give you something to talk about.

Having good communication requires being able to express yourself, while having empathy and compassion for others. It is not always the easiest thing for parents to have empathy and compassion for their teens, or for teens to have empathy and compassion for parents. If you focus on understanding yourself and building the  relationship, communication will come.

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Author: Shelly D Mahon

I have been working with families and teens for almost 20 years, and teaching in a university setting since the year 2000. My commitment is that parents have the support and resources they need to take care of themselves and foster the growth and development of their children. ABOUT ME I have a Ph.D. in Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) and over 20 years of experience working with youth and families. No matter what your family structure, I am committed to helping you make your family work. I can guid you in effectively managing divorce, strengthening parent-child relationships, embracing the teenage years, reducing risks and increasing resiliency in your families. If fostering the growth and development of your children is important to you, I am committed to working with you. APART, NOT BROKEN: LEARN, CONNECT, & CREATE! Apart, Not Broken is for divorced or separated parents who want to: Move past fear, pain, & guilt Create the life they want with their child Manage their relationship with their ex Contribute to others Be the creator of their future The program gives you a place to: Learn: Hear others real experiences and insights. Receive information and recommendations that can make a measurable difference in adjusting and parenting after separation or divorce. Connect: Join an online community. Learn to use creative strategies to connect with your child and manage your relationship with their ex-partner. Create: Feel powerful in your ability to be the parent YOU want to be. Create the relationship YOU want with their child by building on existing strengths, starting new traditions, and creating lasting memories. This program has: – Videos reflecting real life experiences; – Online tools for sharing photos, comparing calendars, communicating, and more; – Current & concise information about divorce & parenting after divorce; – Engaging activities to enjoy with their child; & – Additional resources to build their own parenting toolbox. Happy Parenting, Shelly I took my first Human Development and Family Studies course as an undergraduate at 18 years old. This was the beginning of a lifetime love and commitment to this field. I have another online program Parenting Through Middle School. I am the mother of two teens myself. This has been an interesting journey and quite the adventure. Over the years, I have learned that parenting takes a lot of energy, but it is well worth the effort. To me, parenting brings to life an ever-changing spectrum of human emotion. It is filled with moments of love, excitement, anticipation, expectations, fears, hopes, and dreams. It has made me laugh and cry, sometimes at the same time! Just when I think I have everything figured out, my children change. In these moments I realize that I too must change. As they grow, I find myself looking for the balance between teaching them my values, beliefs, and interests and helping them discover and develop into their own unique individual characters. I love to exercise, eat well, sing and play my piano. My favorite sports are running, mountain biking, hiking, snowshoeing, snowboarding, yoga, Pilates, and most recently, road biking. Happy Parenting! Shelly

2 thoughts on “What Parents Can Do To Improve Communication with Their Teen”

  1. I agree! It is challenging at times to communicate effectively with teens. Parents sometimes get so caught up in telling their teens what to do that they forget to LISTEN. Want to improve communication with your teen —- then you must listen to them.

    1. Hi Rita. Thanks for your comment! I couldn’t agree more…the art of inquiry and listening is where it is at. Then we can be a better judge of how to talk about things with our teens instead of at our teens.

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