Six tips to improve your communication with your adolescent daughter/son

by Lydiana Garcia in Parenting Adolescents

Here are some overall tips to help improve your communication with your adolescent daughter/son:

1. “Good” timing: look for times in which you’re both “relaxed” or at least calm. Usually during dinner time or in the evening. Another time can be during the car ride back home.
2. Respect them: Discipline usually focuses on teaching children/adolescents about respecting others, but not that much about also respecting themselves. Adolescents usually demand respect, and some times they do it through inappropriate ways (yelling, being defiant, etc.). What I mean with respecting them is that if they don’t want to talk, don’t force them, but remain receptive when they do.
3. Combination of open-ended and closed-ended questions: Open-ended questions are great for starting a conversation and getting information. However, some adolescents don’t do well with these types of questions due to many factors (for example: still developing abstract thinking and having difficulties expressing their thoughts). Therefore, closed-ended questions would be beneficial in these cases, and also while building the relationship.

Open-ended questions examples:   How was your day?   What did you have for lunch? How are your friends doing?                  

Closed-ended questions examples: Did you enjoy school today?  Did you eat lunch?   Are your friends doing ok?

4. Listen, listen, listen: Adolescents are used to receiving lectures from adults, and they mostly HATE it. From all the recommendations, this is the best one.

Listen to what they say without judgment (not just watch what you say, but also your face/body gestures). Show them you’re listening by repeating back (reflecting) what they say (not all, but pieces of information in order to show them that you’re listening).

5. Limit distractions: In order for them to feel “heard” and receptive, they need to know you’re interested in what they’re saying and that they have your ultimate attention. Which means, no cell phone, not “paying” attention to the TV, responding a text as soon as possible, etc.
6. Don’t offer unsolicited solutions: This is one of the hardest one for the parents I have work with, but if you’re able to master it, they will keep coming to tell you more information. If you feel like wanting to offer it, first ask them if they will like to hear it, and if they say no, follow recommendation #2 Respect them.

* Please note that there might be moments or situations in which these tips do not apply or might not be recommended. Please contact me if you have any further questions or concerns.

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