Tips for Talking to Your Teen

By Randi Morse

When you have toddlers you often feel like you're pulling your hair out trying to get them to understand you and do as you ask. The same is true for teenagers, which is even more aggravating because you know that your teenager understands you, they just choose not to listen. Talking with teenagers, especially about things that they don't want to talk about, can be extremely frustrating. I once saw a quote that raising teenagers was like, "trying to nail Jell-O to a tree," and that quote couldn't be more accurate. There are, however, some tricks that you can use to help you have important conversations with your teenager.

The Car

Have you ever had the experience of trying to talk with your teenager only to have them walk away from the conversation? When your teen is in the car, there's nowhere they can go. Ask your teenager to go on a quick errand run with you. If they think it's a fast trip, they will be much less likely to bring earbuds along, or you can actually ask them to avoid bringing their earbuds with them. Once you have them in the car and are on your way to your destination, start your conversation.

The Phone

If your teenagers are like mine, their phones are constantly on them. My 15-year-old daughter is attached to her phone in an almost unhealthy way. As parents, we can use that to our advantage. Have your conversation utilizing a text messaging service. Teenagers have become accustomed to having their conversations via text and feel the most comfortable talking that way. Your teen and you will also have time to read and understand what the other person said and you can take time to formulate a response. This can dramatically cut down on the possibility of responding in anger.

Talking with teenagers can be difficult, but it's important that we, as parents remember that we need to listen just as much as we need to talk. If you don't stop and allow your child to tell their side of the situation, or to reveal their thoughts on the discussion, all you're doing is lecturing. And a teenager will block out a lecture faster than you can blink. Remember to respect your teen and listen to what they have to say. You'll find that they are much more likely to talk with you.

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