The dreaded teens are finally here. Your child is spending more time with his friends, talking an alien language and expressing his impatience each time you try to curb his independence. It is a time of upheaval, as much for the parents as for the child. Parents, however, have to take the lead in ensuring that communication channels are kept open. Your child might seem independent, but he needs your love, support and guidance now more than ever. By encouraging conversation, staying calm and trying to perceive the situation from your child’s point of view, you can ensure that he continues to share the ups and downs of his young life with you.
Ways to Communicate with Your Teen Effectively
That is the single most important mantra of talking to your teenager. No matter what he says, do not express anger, annoyance or shock. Teenagers can be exasperating and can test your patience to the limit. Practice walking away when you feel a wave of anger coming on. Emotional pleas are perhaps as useless as angry outbursts. Avoid reasoning with your teen when he is angry. Even your sane arguments will fail to impress him in a heated state of mind. Postpone the decision to a time when both of you have cooled down. Then, offer him your arguments in a calm and rational manner if you want to be heard.
Don’t take action in the heat of the moment:
You’ve been calling out to your son to prepare for that test while he is at the computer surfing the net. You feel a familiar wave of anger and annoyance, and in a flash, you decide to disconnect the wi-fi. An hour later, you are getting it back on because he needs it for his school project. Spot decisions and hasty punishments hardly ever work. Think before you mete out a penalty. It has to be workable and something you can carry through. If you cannot take an immediate decision, tell your teen you need time to think it through.
Put yourself in his shoes:
When we turn into parents, it is easy to forget what it was like to be a 14-year-old. They have different priorities, different fears and different anxieties. Before you let loose a volley of attacks at your child, try to picture the situation from his point of view. You might not agree with him, but it will certainly give you an unbiased perspective.
Make him a partner:
Include your child in the decision-making process. Let him draw up his own timetable. Make mutually agreeable schedules for activities like television watching and playtime. Involve him in tackling problem areas. For instance, you could try, “You missed the bus to school again today. What do you think we should do so you are ready in time?” Then, offer ideas. “Do you think it would help if you wake up 15 minutes earlier?” Or “Should we get your clothes ready the previous night?”
Talk and listen:
Your teen will be spending plenty of time with his friends and you will not be around to listen to what they talk. The only way you can get an insight in your child’s life is by talking to him. So make time to talk and listen actively. Put away your phones or tabs and give him your complete attention, look at him and do not interrupt while he’s talking. Avoid being judgmental of him or of his friends. Point out incorrect behavior, but do it without expressing shock or dismay.
Keeping communication channels open with a teenager isn’t easy. However, with conscious effort, parents can learn to do so successfully and be available whenever their child needs them.