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So, how do I talk to my teenager?

You don’t!

Just lock your bedroom door and wait for college to come.

Hahahaha (notice how I didn’t say LOL?).

Seriously, be afraid, very afraid. But if you want to give it a shot and I think you should then try some of these tidbits.

First let’s examine what they are going through.

Changing emotionally, physically and mentally all while having to worry about whatever they wear that day may just be the end of the world if others don’t approve. These humans or at least they started out as humans are going to have some tempers that are like the weather in Colorado, you just never know. Speaking of unpredictable, how about your teens identity? It is important to remember that the approval of their peers is probably just as important as oxygen at this point in their lives. Remember the awkwardness of socializing in your teen years? They are also going to want to keep secrets and have more and more privacy. Obstinate is a good word, meaning they won’t change their minds no matter how hard you try.

Please remember that it is a difficult time for them even though your teen years may have been “Bitchin” or “Awewsome”. All though that may have been the case it probably took some adjustments for you as well.

Now we can look at some tips for communicating with them that will hopefully help you and them. They may even voluntarily talk with you if things go well.

No-No’s

-Don’t lay the guilt trip and save the lectures for someone who will actually listen to it.

-Their feelings may seem bizarre but DO NOT minimize them, accept them as long as it is rational and not a danger to anyone. Also do not judge them or make them feel terrible about themselves. We are trying to help them build autonomy for themselves.

-Don’t share what they have told you with others. This may include a spouse and this is a touchy subject just keep in mind the trust that you and your teen want and need.

-Don’t wait until it is time to fix or repair your relationship with your teen. Start early with them, I would suggest when they are still in elementary school.

Yesses

–Listen to them. Be empathic and be attentive. They just want to be heard like we all do and a lot of the time they are not looking for advice.

-Use open ended questions so they can actually think of a response besides “yes”, “no” or “Never mind”!

-Respect their privacy. This is very important for them and the transition they are making into early adulthood. Plus it helps if you show that you trust them and their judgment.

-Apologize when you’re wrong. Show that you make mistakes too. Amazing what this will do for your relationship.

-When discussing a mistake by them start off with their strengths. Don’t jump into criticism, try using constructive criticism.

-Let them learn to fail. Some of my best life lessons were the mistakes I made, not the times I got it right.

Hope these help. It will be difficult and even in the best cases the communication between you and your teen may never be what you want. But that is okay. Even if they are not receptive you are still sowing that you care and understand what they are going through. Show them patience and they will show you the amazing ability to be a mature, unique and capable person. You just may not see it until they are moved out of your house. But you will be left with the k knowledge that you did good and your grand children will thank you!

photo credit: martinak15 via photopin cc

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