As an adult and a parent, you know more than your child. You’ve lived more life, had more experiences, and can make better choices. However, just because you have answers doesn’t mean you can expect your child to. They are still growing and maturing. They will make mistakes and need to learn. Your job is to keep your cool and be patient with them. Think back to when you were a teen. Were you perfect?
It can be frustrating to see your child struggle or make mistakes, but it is crucial to be judgment-free when you talk your teen through difficult situations.
How to Start a Talk With Your Teenager
Before starting a conversation with your teenager, especially about a difficult topic like dating or drugs and alcohol, make sure you are in a good mindset. You don’t want to enter the conversation with expectations or negativity.
Teenagers are supposed to test limits; that’s how they grow and learn. You keep them safe by setting boundaries and guiding them. Even though they won’t always be right, remain judgment-free so that your child wants to share with you.
What is important to you may not be on your child’s radar and vice versa. While you are concerned about your teen’s safety and future, they may be more concerned with being accepted by their peers. Before worrying about their future or their grades, they may worry about whether they get invited to a party or have the right clothes. You can talk to them about these subjects and remind them these are not the most important things. However, if you give a little attention in these areas, they’re more likely to take your advice on more serious subjects.
Teenagers simply don’t have the capacity to fully comprehend right and wrong the way that you do. People continue maturing well into their twenties. They may take risks and be impulsive because they do not realize the consequences of their actions. As a parent, help make them aware but also remember that teenagers are teenagers.
Things to Keep in Mind When Talking to Your Teen
Having a serious talk with your teenager can be stressful. They may be angsty or shut down. You may get frustrated. There are ways to interact with your teenager that promote positivity, openness, and trust, and encourage them to listen to and trust you rather than become closed off.
If you want your teen to be open and honest, you may need to prepare yourself to hear something you aren’t expecting. Showing your teen that you’re uncomfortable, angry, or disappointed can make them nervous or embarrassed, which may close off lines of communication. If you can remain calm and supportive, your child will feel safe coming to you.
For example, don’t accuse them of something or begin with punishment. Try not to overreact. Teenagers are already worried about disappointing you, getting in trouble, and not being believed or taken seriously. Don’t give them further reasons to feel that way.
Listening sounds easy, but it isn’t always, especially for parents. You may want to cut in and tell them what’s what, but listening isn’t about your response. It’s about being respectful and validating their feelings. Hear them out completely before responding. Let them share everything before jumping in. You don’t need to agree with their choices, but letting them speak freely makes them feel safe and heard, which is what they need.
You may want to tell your teenager they won’t remember this or might regret something in five years, but it isn’t five years from now. They are living in the moment, and a fight with a friend, a break-up, or a poor decision can feel like the end of the world. Hear them out and sympathize.
As a parent, you want to protect your child. You don’t want them to get hurt, but teenagers will date, party, and make mistakes. When your child tells you they are struggling in school, don’t fear they will fail. If they have a crush, don’t deter them from that. Support their growth. They may have a heartbreak or bad grade, but use those as opportunities for deeper conversations about peer pressure or self-esteem. You don’t want to scare your teenager away from growing up, you want to support them with realistic expectations.
Your teen is trusting you by opening up, so trust them back. Tell them you trust they’ll make good choices but are always available to help them, support them, or talk things through. This can instill confidence in your child. If you worry too much, they will think you don’t have faith in them.
Having any talks with your teenager can be hard. You may want to tiptoe around sensitive topics, but it is important to be straightforward. If you beat around the bush, it may lead to misunderstandings. Encourage them to ask questions, so you’re on the same page.
Do You Need More Than Talking?
If you aren’t having any luck communicating with your teenager, you may need some guidance. There is nothing wrong with seeking parenting help. Sometimes you just can’t break that cycle of anger or frustration, or your teen may be rebellious or struggling with their mental health.
If your problems are beyond your power to fix, family therapy may be the answer for you.
It is easy to judge your teenagers. You think you know best. You might feel like you’re talking to a wall. To have effective conversations, you need to remain judgment-free. They need to trust you to open up. If you lash out with anger or worry, they might pull back and keep secrets. The best way to grow your relationship with your teen and ensure they’re on the right path is to stay involved without being controlling. You must hear them out, validate them, and communicate. This sounds easier than it is, but you are not alone. At Havenwood Academy, we have programs, techniques, and therapies that can help your teen heal and improve your relationship. We put a great deal of focus on family involvement to ensure that your child thrives inside and outside our facility. Call us at (435) 586-2500.
Think Havenwood Might Be For You?
We encourage any visitors considering placing their daughter in treatment to fill out our online assessment as soon as possible. This two minute form will give our admissions team all the information needed to determine if your daughter is a good fit for our program.