Spending quality time in London with my teenage niece, Charlotte.
Five Ways To Talk Teen
My niece Charlotte, now fifteen, has taught me a lot about how to talk to a teen. Here are some tips for parents and other befuddled adults:
- Keep your eyes on the prize. What’s your goal? What is the one piece of information you want to relay to your teen? State your information clearly and don’t allow your teen to drag you off course.
- Don’t take it personally. When your teen ignores you, yells at you, or pretends not to hear, remember that he or she is trying to feel more powerful in this situation. Remind yourself that a power struggle or screaming match will only make things worse. Even if you’re annoyed, keep calm and state the facts. If your teen tries to pull you into an argument, don’t accept. You don’t have to attend every fight you’re invited to.
- Don’t debate your rules. If your teen lobs a zinger at you in order to start an argument, keep the conversation focused on your expectations, not on your teen’s ideas about fairness. The truth is, if you argue about your rules with your teen, it leads him or her to believe the rules are changeable. Instead, stick with the facts: “I know you disagree with the rules, and you’d rather not listen to me. The truth is, you don’t have to like the rules—you just have to find a way to follow them.” Remember, you are the adult and are in a position of authority. That’s your job as a parent, and it’s what your teen needs you to do to feel safe.
- Be sure your rules are reasonable and not arbitrary. Don’t try to enforce unreasonable rules just for the sake of being the boss. Family rules should help everyone get along better as a family.
- Respect your teens in the same way you want them to respect you. Teach your kids how to deal with conflict without becoming angry, yelling, blaming others, or being verbally abusive. You are their role model as to how you want them to behave.