For some parents, the teenage years can be extremely challenging. Between shifting hormones, teen angst and other outside factors like school and relationships which can contribute to fluctuating moods, it’s no surprise the adolescent years can be filled with anxiety and fear. As a result of these factors, many teens don’t know how to process their feelings; so it can all come bubbling out as anger. At the same time, parents are finding it difficult to have a normal conversation with their teens.
Before all patience is lost, here are 5 useful ways parents can better communicate with their teenagers so that everyone stays happy and calm.
Psychologist Bernard Goldan reminds parents to take a step back and listen to their teen’s concerns. He explains, “The hormonal changes that occur during adolescence make teens more volatile and more likely to be expressive rather than reflective.”
With your teen, it’s important to focus on what they’re concerned about rather than how you are going to respond. To put it simply, be present and lend an open ear.
How often have parents found themselves responding to their teen’s complaints with “get over it” – or – “give me a break.” Rather than dismissing their concerns, start addressing them. Remember, what’s important to a 16-year-old may not be the same as what an adult sees as an issue. This doesn’t make their concerns any less valid.
For example, if your daughter wants to go away for spring break but you can’t afford it, don’t brush off the topic with a response like: “we’ll talk about it later.” Instead, try telling your teenager the truth – that you simply can’t afford to fund the entire trip, but you can contribute X amount of dollars. Teenagers are on the brink of adulthood and they need to be spoken to as such.
Hit the pause button
If an argument between you and your teen becomes heated, don’t engage and keep the disagreement going. Walk away, hit the pause button, and then return to finish the conversation when both parties have had some time to calm down and clear their heads. This doesn’t mean ignore the problem; rather, it just means taking a step back to assess the situation.
If you think your teenager would benefit from the guidance of a neutral party, it may be time to enlist help from a professional counselor or program. Case in point, the Landmark Forum for Teens is an interactive experience that leads teens through a series of discussions geared toward issues that are important to them. They’ll have the opportunity to create a breakthrough in their ability to deal effectively with peer pressure and make their own choices. Further, Landmark Forum for Teens helps adolescents get to know themselves as someone who can make a difference.
Every parent can probably expect to receive some attitude once their child reaches the teen years. However, learning how to deal with your teen’s anger and concerns can bring the two of you closer — rather than push you further apart.