How To Talk with Your Teenager

In order to help you and your teenager get through high school without endless arguments , it is essential that you have healthy communication with your teenager. Many parents will say that this is one of their major problems, poor communication with their teenager. This is not a big surprise since our society as a whole does not teach healthy or effective communication styles. Therefore, as a parent if you want to have healthy communication with your teenager then you are going to need to learn some new ways of communicating with your teenager. We see these difficulties in our communication styles in other relationships in our lives such as our spouses, friends and at work. Therefore, it should not be a big surprise that we also have difficulties communicating with our teenagers.

One of the biggest problems in communication is that people make assumptions about what someone else is trying to say. There is a technique that can help resolve this issue. It is called reflective listening. In reflective listening one person speaks while the other person simply listens. After the first person is finished speaking the second person repeats back to the first person what they thought they heard. The first person then gives the second person feedback regarding if that is what they were trying to say or not. If the second person got it right then the second person would proceed in responding to the first person. If the second person did not get it right then the first person would repeat what they were trying to say again. This is not an easy task and it may take a few attempts before you notice any improvements. However, remember practice makes perfect.

Another common communication issue is people using the word “ you”. When most people hear the word you, they automatically go on the defense. They stop listening to what you are saying and they start thinking about how they are going to respond to you. Therefore, the result is they never really heard what you had to say. A common technique used to resolve this issue is the “I” message. When using the I message, the speaker always starts every statement with “I feel…”. When someone is expressing how they feel, you cannot argue with that. Every person has a right to feel the way they feel. Therefore, using the I statement can dramatically reduce arguments. Let me give you an example of an I statement,” son I feel unappreciated when you leave your dirty dishes in the sink, I would appreciate it if you could clean your dishes and put them away thank you.” This is an example of an I statement, you express to the person how you feel and you make a request regarding the behavior change you would like to see. This technique can be very difficult because most people are used to saying you. Therefore, this technique may take a lot of practice. However, remember practice makes perfect.

One final issue regarding healthy communication and this is just for this blog there are many more communication issues to learn in order to have healthy and effective communication. The last issue has to do with do not assume that just because you are ready to discuss an issue that your teenager is ready to discuss an issue. You need to remember your teenagers are now developing more adult lives so they could have had a terrible day at school or a fight with a friend and they may not be in the mood for a discussion. Before beginning any discussion always ask your teenager if this is a good time to talk and also give them an idea about the subject matter for example, son in this a good time to talk I need to discuss some issues regarding your room. Your teenager will either say yes or no. If they say no, then ask for a time when you can discuss the issue. Remember it is okay for them to say no however they do need to give you a time when they will be ready to talk and this time needs to be within a 24-hour time period. Also remember that during the conversation if things are starting to turn into an argument it is okay for your teenager or for you to ask for a time out. This gives the two of you time to cool off and resume the conversation when you both are ready and are capable of having a logical conversation.

Above we have covered some of the most common communication problems between teenagers and their parents. These are not the only communication issues but they are the most common. Also above you have been given some techniques for how to compensate for these issues. Remember our society does not teach us effective communication skills therefore the tools described above may not come easy and may take a great deal of practice. However, if you want a healthy relationship with your teenager the effort is worth. Again as I stated, I have covered the most common communication issues not all of the communication issues. Therefore, you may find it helpful to seek professional assistance from a psychotherapist who can help you and your teenager develop these communication skills.

Dr Michael Rubino has over 18 years experience working with teens and their parents. For more information about Dr Rubino’s work and his private practice visit his website at

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