Understanding Your Teenager

understanding your teenager Etonhouse BlogYour teenage son or daughter takes hours in front of the mirror, their hairdo and choice of clothes is always a bone of contention, they are constantly misplacing things and are forever stuck to their mobile devices. It is virtually impossible to get them to read a book or have a conversation with them that does not involve them rolling their eyes or ending in them walking out and locking themselves in their room.

Does this sound familiar? These instances may occur in your homes with varying intensity but it reflects the communication barriers that sometimes seem insurmountable as your child becomes a teenager. In this article, we will be exploring how we can better communicate and understand your teenage sons and daughters.

The teenage phase is a an important milestone where your child explores and learns the roles in adulthood. During this phase, young adults re-examine their identify and may undergo an existential crisis. This is also the stage where friends play an important role and are of significance to them. A lot of their self identity is shaped by how they are being perceived by their peers, and whether they are valued by them. Hence, teenagers pay a lot of attention to their physical appearance, to gain acceptance from peers. Some of the things that your teenager holds dear may seem insignificant to an adult, but it means the world to them.

What is effective communication ? Education In The 22nd Century

Effective communication is when you feel that both you and your teenager can talk freely about your feelings. In the process of talking, each party feels heard and understood, where you don’t feel judged and there is empathy demonstrated by both parties. When effective communication takes place, relating to your teenager does not seem so daunting.

How can we better communicate with teenagers ?

  1. Remove your emotions and be factual. What your child does or say is not a reflection on you. While we may not agree with some of the things they do, we do not have to get upset. Instead, understand that the child may not be equipped with skills at that point of time to make a better decision. If we take a step back, we will be able to guide them to make better choices, enhancing their confidence. You will be less emotional when you realize your role as a parent is to guide them and not make decisions on their behalf.

  2. Put yourself in their shoes and seek to understand them. While some of the things may not make sense to you as you may not agree or even comprehend them, you should not lose patience. Communication bridges cannot be built in a day.

  3. Be curious. Ask questions because you are curious to find out about what goes on in their lives. In that way, you can better support them. It also makes your teenager less defensive and more open.

  4. Be real. Be genuinely interested in your child, their interests and about what is going on in their lives.

  5. Give them undivided attention. Listen to them when they are sharing. Remove all gadgets -handphone, laptop or tablet and be present moment as they talked.

  6. Show empathy – Ask yourself what would you have done if you were in their shoes and at that age.

  7. Avoid giving instructions. Do not preach to them about what they should or should not do. Respect them and talk to them as adults.

  8. Choose a quiet space without distractions for important conversations. Having interruptions and distractions can make it seem like you’re not interested in what your child is saying. Having a quiet space also allows your child to have the space to open up, without the fear of being interrupted.EtonHouse Blog Dear Parents, Stop Nagging And Start Sharing

  9. Acknowledge what your child has to say. Listen to their difficulties and struggles. Do not belittle  what they share, as this can stop them from sharing their thoughts and feelings in future. When parents complain "my teenager doesn't want to talk to me," what they're really saying is "my teenager doesn't listen to me." Conversations involve at least two people, Steinberg emphasizes.

  10. Ask good questions. Do not ask questions that attack their character. Questions like, “ What’s wrong with you ?” “ Why can’t you get up on time ?” Instead ask questions that set your child thinking. Questions like “ Have you wondered what will happen if we are late?” “Why do you think your teacher is angry with you today?”

Communication is a two way street. Here are some thoughts for teenagers to consider.  

  1. Putting yourself in your parent’s shoes. Understanding the situation from your parent’s point of view. If you are thinking of staying over at a friend’s, try and anticipate their concerns about your safety and whereabouts.

  2. Acknowledge and address their concerns directly. For example, letting them know in advance where you are going to be or informing them the time you will be at home if you are staying out late will make life easier for everyone.

  3. Show respect. They are your parents. If you want them to respect you, you should too.

  4. Make requests and not issue a list of demands.

  5. Explain or clarify yourself. Learn to use “I” statements. For example, learn to say “ I feel you are not being fair “ or , “ I feel that you are not listening to me”. Avoid statements such as “ It’s always like that”, or “you don’t know what I am thinking “.

Meet Agnes at the EtonHouse Orchard open house where she will share insights into communicating with your child.

EtonHouse International School Orchard

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