Is parenting your teenager intimidating? Heartbreak, rebellion, hormones, and other issues can make the parent-child relationship difficult. However, communicating with your teenager during these times is crucial. Here are some ways you can make that process smoother.
Effective listening means more than just understanding their words. Good communication involves listening with your heart, to understand the feelings your teen is experiencing. Feelings are a big part of their decision-making, and things that may seem small to you can feel big to them. Demonstrating you care about their heart will go a long way. You can do this by asking curiosity questions. Try to collaborate with and understand your teen, not fix them or corner them.
Once you have a better grasp of their feelings, it’s important to validate them. Even if you don’t agree with or relate to how they feel, let them know they’re important to you. Show that you trust them and take them seriously. For example, give them responsibilities you trust them to fulfill. Also, remember they are being vulnerable with you, and make sure their trust is not misplaced. One way you can do this is by sharing your own teenage stories with them. Help them understand that you relate to them, and you aren’t perfect either.
Finally, guide your teen rather than dictating them. If they feel constrained by heavy-handed rules, they will probably push back. But if you collaborate with them and explain why you have rules, they will likely be more willing to listen. Don’t be overly negative or minimize their problems. If you downplay their struggles, or treat them like they’re being ridiculous, it will shut them down.
Above all, don’t give up on them! Even if your teen seems closed off, they need your support as they go through these formative years.