When there is open, honest, and effective teen communication, relationships can thrive. This article will provide some essential tips for improving the communication between you and your teen.
It’s easy to make relationships second to family responsibilities, chores, and work. Yet, one way to improve relationships is to make relationships primary. For instance, when in the middle of a heated discussion, place the relationship in the foreground, not the content of the argument. Although each of you might be focused on your side of the argument, take a step back and focus on what’s most important – your relationship with your teen.
With this new perspective, you might respond to your teen differently. For instance, if you are holding on to the idea that their teen needs to go to college and your teen refuses and instead wants to travel, you might only continue to argue. However, when you focus on the relationship, you might soften your response, change the demands you have on your teen, or agree to talk when neither of you are angry.
In fact, simply improving the relationship (by spending more time together, appreciating the other, and making attempts to bring your relationship closer), the quality of your discussions might change.
The next time you and your teen are in a discussion, try the following suggestions:
You can begin by listening. When you are a heated dialogue with your teen, your first task is to listen. Most people listen long enough in order to say what they want to say. When you listen, see if you can listen for what your teen is saying beneath the words. Watch your teen’s communication and body language for more information.
Reflect back what you heard. When you respond, repeat back to your teen what you heard in your own words. When you do this, your teen will likely feel heard and understood versus being pushed or coerced into anything. This way of responding can strengthen trust and respect between the two of you.
Then, empathize: To be empathetic is to deeply understand and feel the reasons why your teen is responding the way they are, even if you don’t agree with what they are saying. You can feel and understand their point of view.. If you want your teen to seriously consider your point of view, be certain they feel you have seriously considered theirs.
See if you can agree with one another: Now that you are beginning to see the other person’s point of view, perhaps the two of you can find some common ground. When the two of you are in agreement, you can avoid arguments and there might be room for you to communicate the reasons why you feel the way you do. Once you’ve developed a positive rapport with each other, there’s room for teaching, bonding, loving, and developing more trust. In fact, when there is empathy, trust, and understanding, the two of you will be more willing to discuss what the other is experiencing. And, more importantly, your teen may be open to what you have to say. In the end, what might surface is some middle ground, a third option that no one thought of, or greater understanding for each of your needs.
The following suggestions are for improving the communication you have with your teen. In fact, this method can work with all members of the family.
Paradigm Malibu is a teen mental health and addiction treatment center in Malibu, CA. Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, or visit our blog for helpful mental health and addiction recovery tips.
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