In my clinical work with troubled teenagers, it is often the case that there is a real communication breakdown between these adolescents and their parents. These teens often feel that their parents do not understand or respect them, do not listen to what they have to say, and cannot relate to their experiences. They may report feeling isolated and closed off from their families, rejected, hurt, angry, anxious, sad, and lonely. In general, these adolescents have built up a “protective wall” between them and their parents (and sometimes the rest of the adult world) behind which they retreat. Because of problems with trust, these teens do not easily let their walls come down or let others see their vulnerabilities and insecurities.
It is important for you, as a parent, to keep the communication doors open with your teen. There are steps you can take to help maintain open communication. While it is normal and to be expected that your teenager will increasingly want to spend more time with their friends outside the home, they still need you to continue to “be there” for them and to provide guidance, advice, security, and support.
7 Tips on How to Effectively Keep the Lines of Communication Open:
In short, find and create opportunities to connect with your teen, to take interest in their lives, and be open to discussing differences of perspective. And remember to say what you mean and to mean what you say!
Importantly, pay attention to any changes (especially drastic ones) you notice in your teen’s behaviour and moods. If you observe that they are acting very differently than usual (e.g., withdrawing into their room for hours, are much quieter than before, avoiding friends, behaving more defiantly and aggressively, missing many days of school, complaining of inability to sleep, crying often, etc.) and you are concerned about what you are seeing, I would strongly encourage you to seek professional help. For more information on whether your adolescent may have a mental health problem, you can read this article from the Douglas Hospital’s website.
For some additional strategies on how to talk to your adolescent, a helpful book you may want to check out is [easyazon_link asin=”0060741260″ locale=”CA” new_window=”default” tag=”smaipagui0c-20″ add_to_cart=”no” cloaking=”default” localization=”default” nofollow=”default” popups=”no”]How To Talk So Teens Will Listen And Listen So Teens Will Talk[/easyazon_link] by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. These authors also wrote the widely known bestseller for communicating with children entitled, [easyazon_link asin=”1451663889″ locale=”CA” new_window=”default” tag=”smaipagui0c-20″ add_to_cart=”no” cloaking=”default” localization=”default” nofollow=”default” popups=”no”]How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk[/easyazon_link].
I hope you will try some of the above strategies and let me know how it goes. I always welcome your feedback, questions, comments, and inquiries!
Images courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / freedigitalphotos.net