Talking with your Teen
Advice from Real Teens
When NOT to start a conversation? In front of their friends - Don’t badger them, or ask them several questions at once - Listen to the answer. Put down your cell phone, laptop or Ipad and listen. - Try not to freak out when you hear an answer that may not agree with you. Give them a chance to explain. - Avoid the following “Door Slammers”
· "You are too young to understand."
· "If you say that again, I'll..."
· "That's none of your business."
· "I don't care what your friends are doing!"
· "We'll talk about that when you need to know."
· "Don't come to me if you mess up."
Some experts suggest limiting your conversations with a teen to 10 minutes or less – 6 or 7 minutes is even better. However, that doesn’t mean you won’t get your point across. It takes some adjusting, but you can do it.
Your one-hour conversation has now become 7 or 8 mini-conversations, each lasting about 7 minutes. You may begin it after you’ve picked them up from school and are in the car, and she responds with a few comments BEFORE she puts on her headphones. After arriving at your destination, you might make another comment to broaden the context. Then at your next meeting, you can bring up the conversation, as if no time has passed from one day to the next.
At the end of each mini-conversation, you may find that a teen’s mind starts wandering off, which signals a resting place for the conversation, which is different from the end of the conversation.
It’s okay, and even optimal, to leave the conversation with a particular question unanswered. Such as, “How do you think you will handle that”? Or, “Do you have a general idea about what’s going to take place?” His inner dialogue is working overtime to sort multiple things out at once, and by leaving a teen with a question at the end, they will be better able to articulate themselves when the conversation is picked up again.
Be aware of cues, and avoid nagging or badgering a teen. Practice active listening by giving your full attention to the speaker, and refraining from giving advice, disagreeing or judging.
The best part about this method is that you are supporting the teen, but not taking over their troubles. They don’t want you to do that, and trust me, you don’t really want to be a teenager again, do YOU?? Besides, if you take on their troubles, it will be that much longer before they are able to become a fully functioning adult and take on their own troubles.
Remember, a teen’s moodiness and inconsistency has very little to do with you! It is normal, it is a process, and you will both come out better on the other side if you allow them to move through it at their own pace. NOTE: Be sure to model respect and civility as often as possible, and continue to stand firm regarding how a teen treats you and those around you, as well as how others treat the teen.
Take your time – adolescence lasts for a long time, so there Is no rush to get in every point you want to make in every conversation.