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Communicating with your Teen

Updated: May 13, 2021

Communication with teenagers improves tremendously when they feel understood and respected. There are times when they may want you to intervene and there will be other times when they just need you to listen and support them. In both situations, the communication will go smoother if you stay open minded and listen patiently. Help them problem solve on their own instead of insisting they do it your way.

As your relationship with your child is changing, allow for more flexibility and compromise whenever you can. Choose your battles. After all, you want your child to grow up to me a responsible and independent adult. They will make mistakes. Help them learn from them.

Some tips to keep in mind:

· Stay calm and manage your own anger (take deep breaths, suggest a break)

· Avoid giving consequences when you are angry

· It is okay to say you need to think about an issue before giving an answer

· Be open to hearing your child’s point of view

· Keep it simple and short

· Show empathy

Because the prefrontal cortex is still developing, teenagers might rely on a part of the brain called the amygdala to make decisions and solve problems more than adults do. The amygdala is associated with emotions, impulses, aggression and instinctive behavior.

· Compromise

· Show respect for your teen's opinions

· Reward, praise and appreciate your teen

· Use “I” message and let your teen know what you expect from them

· Look for the positives and remind yourself that it will pass

If you want an open and honest relationship where you and your child can talk about difficult topics, you need to be ready to manage your own feelings and reactions when you hear something you don’t like. Be a positive role model. Your behavior will show your child the behavior you expect.

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