Parenting

Are you having trouble communicating with your teenager?

Bhavna
11 to 16 years

Created by Bhavna
Updated on Oct 17, 2017

Are you having trouble communicating with your teenager

"The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn't said." --Peter F. Drucker

"I don’t know who this child is, anymore" Maya told her friend, Sheetal, when she asked how her teenage daughter, Chanchal, was doing. Sheetal was both surprised and concerned when she heard this, because in all the years she had known her friend and her daughter, she’d thought they had the ideal relationship. This was, of course, until Chanchal turned 16 and the pressure of studies coupled with the hormonal changes turned her into a child whose mum had a hard time relating or communicating with her.

The only similarity that Sheetal saw in both of them was that each thought that the other could not understand what she was going through. Thankfully Maya took charge, and decided to take positive action, so this situation would not turn permanent.

A disconnect between a teenager and the rest of the family is fairly common when the child is making a transition from adolescence to teenage. To help you, as a parent, understand why your teen keeps things to himself,let’s dig a little deeper and see what fears and worries that your child has during this transition.

Why Is My Teenager Not Communicating With Me?

It might surprise you to no end when your chatty tween suddenly becomes a brooding teenager who doesn’t want to even look you in the eye. Here are some common reasons for your teen’s behavior.

  1. The fear of being judged or misunderstood by the parents
  2. The fear of not living up to the expectations of the adults in the family
  3. The fear of failure or rejection
  4. The fear of failing to be adult-like

How Do I Get My Teenager To Communicate With Me?

These reasons we mentioned above could be why your child may stop communicating with you. But it does not mean that things have to stay that way. Here are some tips to help you connect with your teenager.

  1. Create an opportunity for dialogue: Your teenager may not perhaps be open to a scheduled talk with you, but that simply means that you may have to make yourselfavailable at other times for communication.
    • Create time for talking, when you can give your child 100% attention without seeming intrusive. For e.g., on the way to the supermarket or to the salon for a haircut
    • Don’t make it seem like an obvious "we need to talk" situation. Casually ask some questions, and you’ll soon find him opening up to you
  2. Listen to your child: Sometimes your child may just want to think aloud without wanting your opinion. More often than not, if you’re patiently listening, you may be able to understandthe underlying problem that your child is facing (but hasn’t yet realized, herself). This can have a positive impact, opening up the communication channels
  3. Respect your child: There is a big difference between being inquisitive and being interfering. You need to respect your child’s privacy in order to build trust and bond. There may be times when your teenager passes a disrespectful remark, simply to be mean. However, keeping calm is the only effective way of communication in the long run
  4. Find a common ground to communicate: A teenager experiences a world of changes in a short span of time. More often than not the child may not be able to comprehend the changes and retreat into a shell.
    • It helps if you and your child have a common hobby or interest
    • It could be as simple as playing cricket or baking a cake
    • These are the times your child may let her guard down actually come around to a meaningful conversation with you
  5. Share a personal story: The basic angst that a teen may have would be around not being understood. Statements like, "you don’t get it" or "you will not understand" are the very beginning and the end of most of the conversations between a teen and the parent.
    • Connect and communication comes to a halt and it becomes a vicious circle where the child dismisses most of the attempts made by the parent to start a dialog
    • It is beneficial if you recount incidents from your own life that may have been similar to the ones that your child is experiencing
    • This reassures your child that the parent really understands and means to help the child
  6. Avoid anxious and emotional reactions: When your child begins to discuss a particular incident (even if it has a negative undertone) - like for example, about some other children in the class who have tried alcohol to find out how it makes them feel – don’t immediately react with anxiety. Stay calm and let your child finish her story.Gently ask her how she feels about it. Questions like. "What do you think about this? Or can we talk about this?" will ensure that the next time your teenager has something to talk about she will come to you
  7. Pick your battles: Teenage is a stage when your child is exploring the possibilities of being at the particular age. He is constantly challenging and pushing boundaries.
    • Knowing and acknowledging that this kind of behavior from your teen is expected, is the first step in keeping the connect with him
    • You have to choose which incidents can be ignored, and which ones need a strict stand from you
    • Setting the expected boundaries for your teen will ensure that the bond you share with him stays strong, and the lines of communication are open
  8. Be flexible to change: While your teenager is going through massive changes in her life,you may need to look at parenting in a new light, as well.
    • To connect with your teenager, sometimes you may need to talk about things that you don’t feel comfortable talking about,but are of utmost importance to your child. for example, your teenager may be nursing a broken heart, and as much as you may not like the situation, talking about it will ease the pain for the teenager.
    • our child will feel like her parents respect her feelings and opinions, and this sets the tone for sharing details about her life in the future, as well.
  9. Inherently, teenagers are not great communicators and they often believe that it might be better to talk to anyone else other than their parents.Yet, the people who can lead them to see some clarity in their lives are parents.

    The ideal situation would be if the respect, space and attention is provided in the adolescent stage, and then the gradual crossover happens from adolescence to teenage. But even otherwise, it is never too late to intervene, and do your best for your child.

    I am every emotion times ten, I conform yet I'm rebellious, always obeying but somehow still an outlaw, always talking but never heard, I am a teenager. -- Author Unknown

    Did you find our tips on communicating with teenagers useful? Share your thoughts in the comments section!

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| Oct 04, 2015

Wonderful! Thanks so much for all the pointers. Very helpful

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| Sep 18, 2013

Thanks so much Bhavna, its very helpful to me . My child is approaching this stage very soon now. And i am hearing those statements like "you will never understand me" :-)

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| Sep 17, 2013

Thanks for wonderful guidelines ..

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| Sep 12, 2013

:-) thankyou all

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| Sep 10, 2013

Very useful guidelines. .. Explained beautifully in an easy to understand manner.

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| Sep 09, 2013

Wonderful tips.. Thank you Bhavna. I will need to look this up in the years to come. It is always good to be prepared! :)

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| Sep 09, 2013

Very useful write up Bhavna!

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| Sep 09, 2013

Awesome, thanks for sharing.

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| Sep 06, 2013

Thanks for sharing wonderful tips Bhavna, they are relationship nurturing for sure!! The reasons for why teenagers behave the way they do are wonderful reminders to promote empathy and understanding :)

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