Improving Communication between Parents and Teens

Family Group

Improving Communication between Parents and Teens

For teenagers, adolescence is time of immense growth and self-discovery [1]. As they navigate through new changes, emotions and relationships, this transitional period presents a unique set of challenges for parents and their teens. The growing independence that comes with adolescence can make it difficult for teens to express their needs and thoughts in a way that resonates with adults [2]. Parents, on the other hand, may feel a natural urge to maintain control to protect their children. This, however, can backfire and push their child further away from them, creating a rift in communication.

Communication between parents and their teens can often resemble a precarious tightrope walk. Finding common ground becomes a delicate act, especially when disagreements and misunderstandings arise. What started as a simple conversation could quickly escalate into heated arguments. When communication falters and normal interactions become emotionally draining for both parties, it inadvertently puts a strain on the parent-child relationship, potentially creating a sense of detachment.

Strong parent-child relationship requires healthy and positive communication [1]. So, how do parents communicate better with their teens? Here are some tips from TOUCH Parenting!

UNDERSTAND THE CONTEXT OF THE COMMUNICATION


1. Identify and clarify any issue in simple statements. Understand from your teen’s perspective.
2. Discuss a goal to solve the issue. For example, achieving peace and harmony in the relationship.
3. Discuss the boundaries, rules and agreements that are helpful in achieving the goal.
4. Practice these boundaries or rules before evaluating if the youth can keep to it.
5. If they cannot keep to it, revisit steps 1 to 3 and discuss new options and solutions.

FOCUS ON THE POSTURE AND APPROACH

1. Wear the hat of a coach by being approachable while still holding firm to your expectations.
2. Engage in conversations with your teen using a positive and encouraging tone.
3. Seek to understand any issue that your teen may be facing before jumping to conclusions.
4. Be flexible to adapt your approaches when the situation calls for it.
5. Establish clear rules and boundaries and identify the negotiables and non-negotiables.
6. Clearly communicate your non-negotiables with them and explain the reasoning behind them.

CHOOSE ACTIVE LISTENING FOR RELATIONSHIP BUILDING

1. Stop and pay attention when your teen signals that they want or need to talk.
2. Paraphrase and summarise their words and emotions to check for understanding.
3. Ask appropriate questions to understand the context of the conversation and their intentions.
4. Don’t assume based on what you think or know but seek to clarify if necessary.
5. Consistently use positive and encouraging tone in your conversations with them.

Communication is a two-way street! For teenagers, positive communication with their parents lays the foundation for a strong and trusting relationship throughout their teenage years and beyond. So, how do teens communicate effectively with their parents?

Understand your parents’ intentions: Remember that your parents would usually have your best interests at heart. During disagreements, take a moment to consider from your parents' perspectives. Although it may not change your viewpoints, it may help you to be more empathetic towards them, which paves the way for clearer communication and a deeper understanding of each other.

Have a conversation: It’s convenient to give one-word replies to questions like ‘How’s your day?’. The next time this question comes up, share one highlight from your day instead to start a real conversation with your parents. When you can talk about something small, it’s easier to tackle the tougher topics in the future [3].

Respect goes both ways: When chatting with your parents, avoid rolling your eyes or folding your arms. These non-verbal cues can make your parents feel unheard and dismissed, shutting down the conversation before it even starts. Instead, show that you're engaged and interested by making eye contact and actively listening [4].

Choose the right time: Picking the right timing for a conversation with your parents can make all the difference. Avoid diving into deep discussions or resolving a conflict when either of you is feeling tired, upset or distracted [4]. Emotions can run high in these situations, potentially leading to misunderstandings and unnecessary arguments. Let your parents know you want to talk, but you would prefer to wait until a calmer or better time.

Effective communication is the cornerstone of a strong family! Whether you're a parent or a teen, steer clear of the "us vs them" mentality and focus on working together to build your parent-child relationship and establish healthy and positive communication at home.

TOUCH Parenting aims to strengthen parent-child relationships by providing parents with relevant parenting resources through every stage of their parenting journey. It conducts informative talks and workshops which empower parents with knowledge on preparing for and raising a new-born, navigating the digital age with their child, parent-child communication, and nurturing resilient children and youths. It is also appointed by the Ministry of Social and Family Development as the Parent Support Provider (PSP) for Primary and Secondary schools in Singapore.

Sources
1. “Effective Communication is Crucial for Your Child’s Growth?” Lorna Whiston Schools, 27 Jan, https://enrichment.lornawhiston.com/blog/five-ways-for-parents-to-communicate-with-their-children
2. “Tips for having a difficult conversation with your teen” Reach out, https://parents.au.reachout.com/parenting-skills/effective-communication/tips-for-having-a-difficult-conversation-with-your-teen
3. “Effective ways to improve parent-child communication” Impact Circle, https://www.impactcircle.education/tips/part-1-effective-ways-to-improve-parent-child-communication/
4. “Tips for Teens: How to Improve Communication with Your Parent” Evolve, 13 Aug, 2022, https://evolvetreatment.com/blog/improve-communication-parents/