Teenagers are transitional beings — they are growing from children into young men and women, and that can create strain or conflict in the home. Communicating with your kids as they cross the threshold of 12 to 13 can become challenging at times, and at other times can feel downright impossible. The good news? You can use some strategies that are a little on the sneaky side to keep the conversation going with your adult-in-training.
For starters, avoid vague questions. When you see your teen after a school day, avoid asking, “How did your day go?” That question, while filled with good intentions, often gets an undesirable answer — “Fine.” Instead, use detail and ask more specific questions. Find out when he or she has an upcoming test, for example, so after he or she has conquered it, you can ask how it went. Keep an ear out for what’s going on in your teen's life, and use that as a talking point. This not only helps keep communication easier, but it helps your teen feel important and cared about as well.
No, we don’t mean snag his or her cell phone and tablet — but do take advantage of all that modern technology has to offer, particularly if your teen is always using it. Want to check in during the day? Send a text. Hoping to hear more about how classes are going? Jot an e-mail. Sometimes that face-to-face encounter with your teen can leave much to be desired, with monosyllabic answers or, worse yet, completely dodging a topic. Sometimes being tech savvy can really pay off, and you can get more insight into your teen’s life by utilizing what’s already in his or her hands.
Parents on social media, such as Facebook or Twitter, can be a source of embarrassment, but if you are aware of boundaries and potentially overstepping them, then it can be an excellent way to keep communicating with your teenager. If posting on your kid’s Facebook timeline seems to bug him or her, send a private message instead. Same goes for Twitter — tagging your teen will get his or her attention, but if you become an annoyance, it will defeat the purpose.
Just like when your teenager was little, it’s important to keep your ears open when he or she does open up. Whether it’s about a video game, a fight at school, a show he or she wants to see or what your teen's friends have been up to, listen. While it may not seem important to you, it really is to your kid. Pay attention to what your teen says and remember what he or she talks about, even if it’s about something you honestly have no clue about. These tidbits will not only arm you with future conversation starters (see above), but will let your teenager know that you are there for him or her.
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