Parenting is a tough job, especially during the teen years.  Your once cuddly child may be distant, temperamental, and eager to spend more time with friends than with you.  While your child may be pushing you away physically and emotionally and treating you like you are not needed, your steady presence is vital to your teen’s emotional well-being.

Communicating with Your TeenMaintaining and building a connection with your teen can be a challenge, especially if you are dealing with pressures of your own, but it is so important.  Despite their outward behavior, teens want to be heard, cared for, and understood.  They need your loving guidance.  Here are some tips to foster communication with your teen.

  • When you sense that your teen wants to talk with you, try to stop whatever you are doing and listen.  This may not come at a convenient time but teens often want to talk on their time frame, not yours.  Seize the opportunity.  Be curious.  Ask nonjudgmental questions.  Do not grill or be overly intrusive
  • Let your child know that you are really listening.  Give your child your undivided attention.  Put away any electronics.  Try to grasp the emotions underlying what your child is discussing.  Attend to the emotions.
  • Ask your child what they want from you during the conversation.  Do they want your advice?  Do they just want you to listen?  Do they need to vent?  Find out what your kid needs from you at that moment.
  • Try to understanding the situation from your teen’s perspective.  For example, perhaps your child is upset about the way a friend treated her but you know that your child did something that contributed to the problem.  For now just focus on how your child is feeling.  Concentrate on building the connection, not fixing the behavior or preaching.
  • If your teen comes to you with a dilemma, do not immediately try to solve the issue yourself.  Instead, help your child think through different ways to handle the situation.

Many emotional issues can surface as you parent a teen.  If over a period of time you find your relationship with your child frustrating, or if you  feel you are having communication problems, you might benefit from speaking with a psychotherapist or counselor.