How to Better Communicate with your Teen


Slamming doors, epic eye rolls, grunts, black hole brain fades, and emotional breakdowns you don’t understand.  It’s all part of a normal day when there is a teenager in the house.

What happened to the sweet little girl who would sneak into your wardrobe and slip on your high heels, and who played with your makeup?  What happened to the adorable little boy who idolized everything you said and did?

Well, adolescence happened…. your little babies grew up.

As puberty hits, relationships between parents and young people can take a nosedive and in some cases may never recover.  But, thankfully, it doesn’t have to be that way.

Here are five strategies you can use to foster better communication to strengthen your relationship with your teen.

1. Timing your talks

What do you do when you come home from work?  Do you enjoy a length line of enquiry from your significant other? Or do you prefer to chill for a bit before you get into a heavy discussion?

Think of school as your teenager’s job.  They’re likely tired, maybe stressed, and if they’re anything like my teen, they’ll be famished!  When they get home the last thing they feel like doing is answering a million questions. Or even one.  A kick back, snack and to relax are the only things on your teen’s agenda after school. Choose a different time to chat – or at least give them an hour or so to wind down before attempting a conversation.

2. Don’t talk, Listen

When we stop listening, and start interrupting our teenagers, regardless of what we have to say, the message they receive (and one we didn’t mean to send), is: Mum and Dad don’t respect my thoughts and words.

Think about that friend – we all have one – the one who cuts you off mid sentence to contribute their own experience, or who completely changes the subject, or just isn’t interested in what you have to say.  They likely have no idea they’re doing it, or they don’t mean to be hurtful. Even if we don’t stop contributing when that person is around, we can become very resentful if it happens over and over again.

Stop talking over your teen.  Be with them, wholey and solely.  Listen with an open heart and an open mind. You’ll never regret investing in your child.

3. Validation

Saying Get Over It, Calm Down, Stop Being So Dramatic are sure fire ways to cut the lines of communication with your teen.  


Yes, in capitals. I was kinda yelling – this is important.

Think about how you felt when someone has told you to calm down.  Did it work? Has it ever worked in the history of mankind? Just because we don’t understand something, doesn’t mean it isn’t real.  

Think of hormones as electricity – I have no idea how electricity works.  I just know that when I switch on a light, the room is illuminated. Same for hormones.  Somewhere there’s a switch that causes a change. It’s real. Your teens feelings are real.

When it seems like they’re losing their mind, crying, screaming – whatever that looks and sounds like, instead of telling them to calm down, try doing something. Sit down. It shows you’re not going anywhere. Try not to speak much, this is their ‘meltdown’.  When you do talk, use a calm soft voice. Display the behaviour you would like them to mirror.

As we’ve talked about in point 2, listen. And then be honest when you don’t understand it. “Jane, I’m so sorry, this is the first time I’ve experienced this. I don’t understand it. But I definitely want to. What can I do to help?”

4. Interest

Get to know your teen.  Show interest, don’t interrogate.  Sit with him while he games as if his life depends on it.  Ask the questions to show interest. Keep them genuine, not sarcastic or demeaning.

Have your teen daughter show you how to update your Facebook profile picture, or how SnapChat works.  Sit and watch YouTube channels on how to style hair one million ways.

A surefire way to cut all communication is to diss current trends, saying Instagram is stupid, or contouring makeup is a waste.  This will only widen the gap in your relationship.

Instead, identify what floats their boat and genuinely show interest in it.

I’m not suggesting you should start contouring or start collecting followers on Instagram – I’m just advising you not to tell your teen it’s dumb to want to.

5. Praise

Teenagers need recognition just as much, if not more than, little children.

Teenagers need to know, when they are testing all your boundaries, that they have your approval (of them, not their behaviour), love, and support.  Even though they’re acting like they don’t want or need you, this is exactly the time that they want and need you. Praise them appropriately for their efforts, for their thoughtfulness.  Catch them in their awesomeness and let them know you did.

Praise your young person and your relationship and communication will improve.

Strengthening your relationship with your teen will take time.  Invest in it. Listen more than you talk. Ask at appropriate times.  Get to know their passions. Hang with them, in silence if necessary. They’ll know you genuinely want to know who they are.  They’ll know they belong.

Adolescence and young adulthood is hectic.  Investing your time and effort in communication lines and strategies with your young person will have such a positive impact on their emotional, spiritual and physical well being.

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