Communication between teens and parents is an essential part of the family setting and can be on the rough side if not handled carefully. For parents and teens to have a healthy and long-lasting relationship, parents must learn how to facilitate communication effectively between them and their teens.
It’s often difficult for parents to effectively communicate with their teens because they are no longer the sweet young children they used to know.
At the adolescent stage, parenting tends to take a new turn as your young children are now grown up and want to make decisions on their own. Your communication pattern also changes, and most times go down to zero.
During the teenage years, maintaining a healthy parent-teen relationship is essential for family growth.
Teens prefer opening up to their peers than their parents, and this can be extremely frustrating for parents.
What you need to know is that at this stage of their life, they will want to pull away and sometimes distance themselves from you just to show they are getting independent.
Hopefully, you can cultivate a healthy relationship with your teenagers which will help in facilitating communication.
Communication mistakes parents need to avoid with their teenagers
1. Teens live in the present
It’s important to note that teens focus on the present and care little of future occurrence. Whatever they do wrong, just caution them immediately and let go because they may likely not remember after some time. Holding grudges will only breach your relationship and disrupt your communication flow.
2. Teens are incredible observers
Teenage years are the most active years in your children’s lives. They become very observant and read meaning to everything you do and every word you say.
They may interpret your body language or your tone wrongly, so you have to be careful as a parent not to allow conflict arise from that situation.
3. Parents fail to transit from caregiver to coach
There would surely come a time when you have to trust your teens to make decisions on their own. Here you become their coach instructing, guiding and directing them when they need it.
Your caregiver role becomes limited at this point because they can now think for themselves and may protest when you try to control all their activities. However, most parents don’t know when to limit the caregiver role and start the coaching duty.
4. We forget what it’s like to be a teenager
Most times, parents often overlook the fact that they were once teenagers, and they went through the developing process that their children are currently going through. They always want their teens to do things their way and act just like them, forgetting that the way a teenager thinks and behave is different from the way adults think.
Ways to facilitate communication between parents and teenagers
There are several ways parents can facilitate communication between themselves and their teens without sounding too authoritative and pushing them away as well. They include:
Prying into your teen’s affair will do you no good. It will only make them feel pressured, and opening up to you would be the last thing on their mind.
To maintain a healthy relationship with your teen, you need to cultivate the habit of listening. Try to sit back and just listen to them when they talk without interrupting them or getting distracted; this would make them feel important.
Teens love to be trusted. By showing your teens that you trust and have faith in them, they won’t hesitate to communicate with you. It’s easier for them to share their thoughts with you if they trust you, and you allow them to air their views. It’ll also help in building their self-confidence.
Don’t be a dictator
Ephesians 6:4a “Fathers do not provoke your children to anger.” Teens hate being controlled. Dictating for your teenager will do nothing but make them angry and sad.
Telling your teen, this is what he or she should do, and it must be done that way would only stir up conflict and push them away from you. However, explaining calmly and giving valid reasons why they shouldn’t do something would make them understand and agree to your terms.
Being a dictator would not only frighten your teen, but it’ll also create a tension of which will create a gap in your communication cycle.
Give genuine praise
As a parent, you should learn to cultivate the habit of praising your children when they do something good. This would help boost their self-confidence and make them feel valued. Learn to keep the communication flowing by appreciating their good efforts. Always take note of their positive attitude and accord them the praises they need.
Include them in decision making
The easiest step in facilitating communication with your teen is to include them when making decisions and making rules. Teens know a little about everything, so asking for their opinion would make them feel trusted and open the floor for communication.
Give unconditional love
You need to let your teen know you love them. When they feel loved, they would be able to communicate with you genuinely without holding back.
Validate without being judgmental
Teens hate being judged, blamed and criticized. As a parent, you might feel you know what is best for your teenager, but it’s better you let them make some decisions by themselves and guide them with your experience and expertise.
Listen to them carefully when they talk, offer your support when necessary and avoid criticism. With this, your teen would open up and communicate with you freely at any time.
Always keep calm when your teen is communicating. If you want to facilitate communication effectively, control your emotions.
No matter what your teen is saying, stay calm and listen attentively. This would make them feel you can handle what they are saying, therefore, making them open for conversations at any point in time, especially in crucial situations. It’ll also give you time to think of the best way to handle the situation
Practice what you preach
This is the best communication strategy for a parent-teen relationship. Most times, we hear parents tell their kids ‘do as I say not do as I do’ because they are oblivious of the fact that parents are role models to their kids. Your kid won’t trust you enough if you break the rules you make first.
Whenever you feel like there’s a breach in your communication with your teenager, pray about it. Ask God to give you the wisdom and understanding to train your teenager.
The Bible in John 14:26a says “But the comforter (which is) the Holy Ghost whom the Father will send in my name he shall teach you all things”. Ask God to teach you ways you can communicate with your teen without ending in conflict.