Parenting a teenager can sometimes be a challenge. There may be days when you get frustrated and wonder whether you can have a normal chat with your child. There may be times when we feel like you’ve taken two steps forward and three steps backward. Most parents are aware of this and want to do their best but sometimes find themselves hitting a wall.
There are some simple changes we can make in our communicating style that might help bridge the gap:
- It’s good to be interested in what’s going on with your child.
- The best way to find out is to listen when they talk. Asking direct questions and trying to pry is not helpful.
- Teens hate it when you ask questions especially when they are hungry and tired.
- Try and share a meal together everyday and keep the conversation general and not about their studies, grades and homework or tuitions.
- Spending more time with them while driving to or from a particular place helps as it gives us more time to talk.
- When they do share their concerns we have a tendency to try to solve their problems. Try and avoid that Just validate their feelings. By saying you understand what he /she must be going through. Trust them to come up with their own solutions by asking questions like “how do you feel about what happened? Or what do you want to do about it ?”
- When having such conversations its important not to downplay their emotions. As adults we have been through so much that sometimes their problems appear minor and you may feel your child is over reacting but he/she is genuinely going through those emotions.
- Try not to downplay their disappointments. If a teen expresses that they feel bad about not doing well in school our first reaction is to angrily accuse them of not putting in enough effort. Start by pointing out that it’s a good sign that he/she is concerned about school performance and ask them how they plan to improve and in what way you can help, as you are equally concerned. Discuss and embrace your child’s opinion; that way they feel they are being treated like adults.
- It’s important to say no or to set rules and boundaries for a teenager. When you do, make sure you explain well why they need to be set. If they argue with you and try to negotiate, patiently explain why you are setting the rule but don’t budge or give in.
- Keep up with their interests– listen to their music, watch their television shows with them and turn up to their sports practice sessions. Take an active interest in their life and they will have a lot to share with you. It’s important to have fun with them and laugh because good feelings build relationships.
Sujatha Kumar, Clinical Psychologist, Mind Your Fitness!