How do you talk to your teenager?

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Answered by: Lauren, An Expert in the Talking to Your Teenager Category
Parents everywhere dread the teenage years and all of the problems that seem to come with it. That doesn't mean that parenting a teenager has to be hard! Most of the time, the issue isn't just with the teen in question -- it's in how the parent deals with communication with them. Talking to your teenage child can be tricky business. This is especially true when you're trying to relate to them, even if they don't fall under the umbrella of a "troubled teen."

So what are some things you should remember when you talk to your teenager?

Emotions run high throughout the teenage years. If your teenager doesn't feel like you understand and relate to them, then they're probably not going to open up to you. Trying to get your teenager to talk to you because you're the parent and they "should" will not work. Even if you don't try to force your teenager to talk to you, approaches like this won't get you very far.

Remember what you used to be like when you were a teenager. Your rules (a curfew, for example) might seem reasonable to you, and you might not understand why your teenager is upset with them. If you refuse to see your teenager's side of view, they might even get frustrated and angry. Teenagers are not known for the best ability to communicate their feelings in words, and, if they feel they cannot talk to you, this might stress your relationship even more.

Considering a teenager's point of view when you talk to your teenager is extremely important. Be wary, however: while you must relate to your child in order to talk to them during this time, you are still their parent. Acting like you are just the friend of a teenager is a good way to get walked over. Here are some things to consider when communicating with your teen:

1) Consider how they feel.

If your child seems frustrated with something, try to think about anything that might have changed lately. You may be okay with something, but your child is not. The issue your teenager is facing might not even involve you. A teenager's emotions make up a majority of their being, and acknowledging the importance of these feelings is the first step in communication. If a teenager feels like something isn't a big deal to you, don't expect them to talk to you about it.

2) Be firm, but not harsh.

If you're trying to administer a rule, your teenager's feelings are important -- but not the most important. If the issue at hand is a curfew, for example, you must remember that you are not their friend. You're their parent first, friend second. Acknowledge your teenager's feelings when you speak to them. Consider negotiation on something you disagree on, but don't give them everything they want.

3) Remember that they won't always be teenagers.

While it can be hard to talk to your teen because of all of the changes they're going through, it won't last forever. Many adults say that their relationships get easier with their teens as the teens grow into adults.

No matter what route you go on, remember to consider that fact. While your teenager is still your child, they are getting closer to becoming an adult. Acknowledging their feelings while starting communication with them as an equal will drastically improve your relationship as they grow into adulthood.

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