Does it feel like you’re walking on eggshells when you interact with your child? If so, you’re not alone. That said, open communication is vital for building trust, safety, and connection between parents and children. Consider these useful tips for talking to your teenager.
Focus More on Listening
When your child talks to you, they want to feel heard, supported, and understood. They might want advice, but that’s usually not their sole intention. Therefore, if you talk over them or jump in with solutions, they may shut down.
Focus on practicing active listening. That means being mindful and present when they talk: no distractions, no interrupting, no assumptions.
Use “I” Statements
“I” statements refer to a mode of communication that emphasizes your personal beliefs, feelings, or thoughts. Rather than saying "you’re driving me crazy," an “I” statement would reframe that message to "I feel frustrated when you don’t call me."
“I” statements also model personal accountability. As a result, they can help your child become less reactive or defensive when you talk.
Validate Their Feelings
Validation is an essential component of feeling supported and understood. If your child doesn’t feel validated by you, they may not want to share important details about their life. You can validate them by saying:
- “Thank you for sharing that with me.”
- “That does sound hard!”
- “I can imagine you’d feel…”
- “I am so proud of you.”
Final Thoughts on Talking to Your Teenager
Talking to your teenager can be enjoyable and productive. With the right mindset and techniques, you and your child can develop an even stronger relationship.