How to Effectively Communicate with Troubled Teens

    Troubled Teens

    When troubled teens lose interest in heart-to-heart talks and stop showing signs of affection, parents think that their children no longer need their care and support.

    It seems like only a couple of years ago you hurried home in the evenings to cook dinner for your kid, to play with him and talk to him, to make sure he did his homework and to kiss him goodnight. But now he prefers to be independent and can’t stand it when you “meddle in his private life”. He doesn’t need your care anymore, and your affection only annoys him. Does it mean that it’s time for you to stand aside and leave him alone?

    In no event, the psychologists say; you just need to seek for some new ways to communicate with your teenage child. Adolescence is just the right time start building adult relationship. It will be the basis for your communication in future, when your child grows up and becomes truly independent.

    Spend time together

    It happens that teenagers and their parents just can’t spend even 15 minutes together without arguing. Movies, internet, games and friends — all this is much more interesting and important than you now. It means that you need to find the right moments to talk to your kid.

    Talk while working. You will hardly be able to make your 15-year-old daughter spend time with you at a dinner table: she won’t be interested in listening to your problems and will be violently opposed to any attempts to learn about her private life. However, you can try to talk to her while cooking a dinner. Ask her to give you a hand — for example, to cut some veggies for a salad or to make some stuffing for a pie. When it seems that the main goal is cooking dinner and the conversation is just to entertain yourselves while you’re at work, it will be easier for your teen to be sincere with you. It works for the boys aswell who can chat with their fathers while fishing, fixing something or working in a garage.

    According to surveys, 85% of high-schoolers admit that they really need to communicate with adults, and 66% of them consider their parents as the most desirable conversation partners.

    Talk while you are on your way somewhere. While in a car, you don’t face each other; you sit shoulder to shoulder, which helps to break some psychological barriers. When you look straight into your child’s eyes, he may feel discomfort and if he does, it would be very hard for you to have a sincere conversation. But when your attention is focused on the road, your kid doesn’t get this feeling of someone watching him intently and relaxes. Besides, a car is a neutral territory. If you try to enter your child’s room to talk to him, he might take it as an intrusion on his privacy, but this won’t happen in the car.

    Share your passions. Try to get your kid interested in something that you like. At first it may seem that handiwork isn’t something that may interest a teenage girl, but if you choose some pretty beads and strings for her and teach her how to make bracelets and earrings, you might just gain her attention. But even if your teenager doesn’t like it, don’t get all upset. In any case, it will be great for your kid to know your interests are not limited to cooking dinners and checking her homework.

    Be sure to show sincere interest in what your kid likes. If he is in a musical band, visit his performances; if he’s into sports, support him while watching him playing or competing. Don’t just sniff at the books your child reads (after all, the fact that he does read something is great as it is). Watch movies your child likes — this way you will at least be aware of the issues important to him. Get to know more about video games he likes playing. Listen to his favorite music even if it sounds weird to you (any musical band has one or two songs you will like for sure). You’ll see how pleasantly surprised and glad your teen will be on learning that you share his interests.

    Don’t be afraid of overpraising your kid. Teens need their parent’s approval no less than smaller kids do. It means that you should pay attention to what your child is does from time to time and praise him. He takes his skating board with him wherever he goes? Ask him to show you how good he is and let him know you are impressed.

    Talk to your kid

    The questions we often ask do nothing but annoy teenagers and make them defend themselvs. To re-establish a good contact with your child, you will have to use some creative thinking.

    Don’t ask any direct questions that will only result in curt and dry answers:

    — “How was your day?
    — “Okay.

    This will be the end of your conversation and most likely, you won’t hear anything else from your kid. Here’s a trick psychologists advise to use: to get your kid interested in talking, win his attention. How can you do that? Well, it’s like trying to attract someone’s attention at a party. Start with general questions about your kid’s hobbies. Comment on his answers to give him a reason to continue talking.

    Chat online. An adult may be wholeheartedly convinced that there is nothing like a heart-to-heart conversation when two people look into each other’s eyes, but in fact, teenagers are usually of a different opinion on the matter. To make yourself heard, get familiar with the virtual means of communication. Write text messages, use e-mail and study blogging platforms and chatrooms. Who knows? You may find out that your kid is too shy to discuss some things with you verbally, but it is easier for him to write about them.

    Find the most suitable moment. Take into account your kid’s schedule, his habits and lifestyle. For instance, if your son is a night owl and likes to stay up late sitting in front of his computer, try to stay up too. And when he comes to the kitchen to grab a snack (which he will do for sure), you’ll be able to not only offer him some sandwiches, but also a nice conversation.

    Don’t jump to conclusions. Psychologists say that in most cases teens refuse to get engaged into communication because they are afraid their parents won’t understand them or that they will be judged or reprimanded. So if your 13-year-old daughter tells you she’s dating someone, don’t panic right away. You both may have quite different understanding of what “dating” involves. The main thing you should know is that your teenager kid is not some problem you’ve got to settle down. He is a person who, like we all, needs to be understood. So don’t overreact and try to figure out what exactly is going on. On the other hand, if your kid tells you about some “disaster” that happened to him (a bad haircut, unhappy love, or an unfaithful friend), treat his issues with the utmost attention. This will give your kid an idea that in the future he can turn to you for help with any problems he has.

    7 don’ts any parent should know

    1. Don’t ask questions over and over again otherwise the child feels being interrogated.
    2. Don’t try to sing along to the songs your kid is listening, especially in the presence of his friends.
    3. Don’t mock your child and don’t be sarcastic when talking to him.
    4. Don’t talk when you can listen.
    5. Don’t leave your kid without any support when he really needs it.
    6. Don’t strike your kid’s friends off the list of your weekend plans, even if all you want to do over the weekend is to stay with your family.
    7. Don’t use your kid’s phone or computer to spy on him and to hook out the secrets he’s not ready to share.

    Are you a parent of a troubled teen? Share your stories and experience with us!


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