Parenting Tips for Communicating with Teenagers

As a parent, I know it is hard to find the time and energy to slow down in our busy lives to communicate with our family. Even after work and on the weekend we have usually lined up so many tasks and jobs to do. I often think to myself.… ‘I do not have time to do that because I have to do this’, and the ‘this’, could be any of shopping, cleaning, driving around, cooking, dusting, gardening …
The list goes on.

While these tasks and jobs may all be important, so is spending time communicating with my children (even if they are teenagers and tricky to talk to at times) – much more important in fact.

Teenagers still need their parents – sometimes more than younger children do, despite it often looking like exactly the opposite! Of course, teenagers may be busy too with sport, friends and devices and perhaps even with their homework!

Teenagers do need parental guidance and support to bounce ideas off and to set reasonable boundaries. How do we communicate with our teenagers then? Especially when they may act as if, perhaps, they would rather, we do not speak to them. It is hard sometimes … that is for sure.

Below is a list of some of the ideas I often share with parents about communicating with teenagers. You might find this list helpful too:

  1. Make time to talk and make time to listen. i.e., slow down yourself
  2. Recognise when you have said enough.
  3. Speak, while already engaged in an activity together. e.g., driving, baking, walking
  4. Encourage incidental communication about something going on in the world. e.g., from the media
  5. Point out their strengths. e.g., in context
  6. Know about their lives.
  7. Speak hopefully about possibilities for future things they might enjoy. e.g., leisure, courses
  8. Go to school events when they are young, when this is not ‘embarrassing’ so when they are teenagers they just expect that you will attend.
  9. Know when they have important things on. i.e., try to be there to support them.
  10. Do things together – deliberately.
  11. Have planned game time especially board games. i.e., include some ‘life lessons’ not too many ….as you play!
  12. Be prepared to put down the cooking and stop cleaning to listen to them if they try to speak to you.
  13. Do not be offended by their short or off hand comments – remember you are the adult and you know who you are in this world while they still have to discover who they are.
  14. Be aware of looking hassled and hurried in front of your teenager too often – as this stresses them out.
  15. We need to help our teenagers slow down and find their passions, their interests, their points of reference and their perspective.
  16. It would be great to help them learn the ability to be present in the moment by helping them notice things around them. e.g., how beautiful the sky is.
  17. Encourage them to have a structure to their day and an activity for each part – the activity can be relaxing. i.e., morning, afternoon, evening.
  18. Encourage them to alternate the activities – and broaden the number of activities they do.
  19. Talk to them about their activities.
  20. Look like you have a plan for them as a backstop if they have no plan. i.e., encourage the thinking – ‘there is always a plan B.’

Source image:

 Di Mawby close photo This blog was written by Dianne Mawby, Psychologist at Your Mind Matters Psychology Services. Di works with us 2 evenings per week and is enjoys working with older children, adolescents, families and adults.  

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