I remember being a teenager and I was not the worst, but also not the best kid. I would get mad at my parents and not talk to them for days. My room was in the basement so it was easy to escape the world of parents!
Fast-forward to me raising a teenager and it really is the worst stage. I would so go back to the tantrum three-year-old phase! During the teenage years, parents are trying to teach valuable life lessons while trying to keep them alive.
I had to figure out how to communicate with my teenager all over again and train myself to watch my words. Here are some tips I use to communicate better with my teenage son.
REMEMBER GOD IS ALWAYS THERE TO LEAD THE WAY. IT MAY NOT SEEM LIKE IT BUT GOD IS PRESENT AND LISTENING TO YOUR PRAYERS FOR YOU AND YOUR FAMILY.
Don’t nag your teenager about stuff like doing their homework or cleaning their room.
Parents should clearly outline what is expected of their children. If those items are not completed, teenagers need to learn that there are consequences for stuff like not getting their homework done. You can’t go to college with them so let them learn early that if they forget to complete homework, they have to pay the consequences the teacher has set for the class. If you keep changing the rules for your child they never learn what the expectations are and think others will also bend the rules.
As a parent, you can ensure you set your child up for success. If you see them failing often, maybe look into a program that will teach them organization skills.
Do pay attention to signs that they may be struggling with depression or something seems to be bothering them at school.
I never pressure my son to talk to me but, if your child does not open up and you feel something is off there are things you can do as a parent. I noticed something was going on with my son the beginning of his freshman year in high school.I told him I thought something was going on and told him he could talk to me. I also let him know if he did not want to talk to me there are counselors that he could talk to that would help him with whatever he was dealing with. He would never talk. As a parent this made me worry. Too many teenagers turn to drugs or even worse suicide to solve their problems. I knew he needed to talk to someone but he did not want to go to a counselor.
This is when a counselor told me to call the school and speak with the social worker at school. I did and this person set up meetings with my son to help with the situation. I was very honest with my son and told him who I spoke with and that they would be speaking with him. Obviously, he did not want to but he had no choice since I involved the school. He needed to speak with someone and this was the only way I could get him to meet with someone.
Most schools have a social worker that will meet with your child. You could also reach out to a counselor that specializes in teen therapy. This will provide your teenager with someone to talk to if they will not talk to you.
Being a teenager is not the same as it was fifteen years ago. Social media has completely changed the game. If we were not getting along with someone back in the day it was among those involved. Today stuff can easily spread via social media and easily upset your teenager. Be mindful of this and seek help right away.
Fast-forward to today, we have been through a lot but my son now opens up to me and I can talk to him and help him through the teen years.
The thing I learned from this situation is that you cannot give your teenager the power. If you insist they go to a counselor and you drag them, they will not talk and there is nothing the counselor can do for your teen. I removed myself from the situation called the school and they helped me with this problem. My son was very compliant with the school and talking to the social worker. While he thought it was stupid it did help and I am very thankful for the schools having this option.
I find the best time to talk to my son is while we are out of the house.
My son is driving and will take me anywhere to drive. I sneak in questions throughout the ride and try not to push it too far. When your teenager starts to shut-down or not respond, change the subject and talk about something more interest like the latest music.
I try to keep the conversation light and add a couple probing questions to see what kind of mood my teen is in. Sometimes I can get a lot out and other times I have to know when it is too much.
Don’t talk about important stuff right after school.
Think about how you feel after working all day and then you come home to a house you need to clean, a husband and children that need your attention.Let your teenager have some alone time to process their day. You should do the same because you will be a better parent!
Let them chill and save questions for when the time is right. You will know when your teenager is stressed and just needs your support and not grilled with questions about grades, friends, and other topics we complain about as parents.
Don’t talk down to your teenager or make universal comments that set them up to have self-esteem issues.
Your teenager gets a C on their last test. The last thing a parent should say to their child is that they could have done better or they should have got an A. I find a better approach when my son tells me about his grades is asking him if he felt he did his best. He always tells me what he thinks. If he says yes, I take him at his word and tell him that as long as he does his best, that is all I ask. He also tells me when he thinks he could have done better so I have had success with this approach. As a parent, if you are always nagging your teenager to get an A in every class, this is a lot of pressure. What happened when your parents pressured you as a teen? My parents did not and I navigated my way through school just fine. Today I have an MBA and a wonderful job. Let your teen figure it out and don’t worry about their grades!
Also, making universal comments is not something I recommend. What I mean by this is saying phrases like “you are so smart.” Yes, your child might be smart, but what happens when they fail. Comments like these can lower their self-esteem. Instead, if they did great on a test or played well in a game, say “You rocked that game and made an awesome goal” or “You really did well on that science test.”
What happens when you say “you are so smart” all the time and your teenager gets an F, they feel like they let you down and they also feel horrible. It gets even worse if you say what happened you are so smart. Really, you don’t think they feel bad getting an F that you have to make them feel worse. This leads to many problems and if you engage in this type of conversation, please stop. Instead, I like to tell my son that you are going to fail at times; you just have to know what you can do better next time to change the outcome. They may need a tutor or to spend time with the teacher.
Remember your teenager is not going to tell you everything, but you will be surprised what they share when you change your approach.