One of the most difficult times for parents is when their child turns 13. For many parents, this is the most difficult part of the growing up part other than the day the child leaves home. Children who were once happy and would share anything with you suddenly shut you out of their lives completely.
|Why won't he just listen?!|
What parent doesn’t take that personally?
What can we do to not take these things personally? Let’s see if the following ideas may help in communicating with your teenager.
1. Realize that life has changed (both for you and them).
As the parent or leader working with a teenager, you must realize that there will be times when your son/daughter becomes withdrawn and doesn’t want to talk. If this happens occasionally, it’s not a problem. Teenagers are just like the rest of us—they have good days and bad days and don’t want to talk.
2. Be a good listener.
When someone wants to talk, they just want to be heard. Now what I’m about to say is so hard! But unless your teenager is asking for advice, don’t jump in giving it to them! Everyone needs leadership from time-to-time, but nobody wants unsolicited advice.
3. Accept that their door will sometimes be shut.
There will be times when it is not good to talk. If your son/daughter is spending some down time in his room, it is not a good time to strike up an important conversation. Watch for a time when your teen seems ready to talk. Be available to talk when your child wants to talk. Turning your teen away makes her less likely to come back.
4. A little praise goes a long way.
There is a lot going on in a teenager’s head. It’s a big help if you remain positive with teens. Putting down their ideas will only lead to trouble. Even if your son or daughter doesn’t appear to value your opinion, he or she is likely to be sensitive to your criticisms.
5. Find new things to do together.
As teenagers get older, they often see themselves as adults. It’s OK that they have outgrown some of the things you did together when they were younger. Talk to other parents and youth leaders, asking for ideas of activities to do with your teenager.
6. Watch what you say.
Ask questions that require more than a one word answer: “What did you enjoy doing while you were out?” is more likely to start a conversation than simply asking if she had a good time with her friends.
7. Show faith in them.
During the teenage years, your child needs a bit of rope, but not too much. Give your teen extra leeway. By doing so, you demonstrate you trust him.
As parents, we all worry! No tips are going to work every time in every situation. But maybe something I’ve said here will spark a good conversation with your teenager.
M. Steve Heartsill is the managing editor for Royal Ambassadors® and Challengers®.