Recently I’ve received many questions from parents about how to communicate with teenagers. Parents are frustrated with teens who are secretive about their lives, don’t want their parents’ advice, think they know everything and would rather follow their peers than listen to the voice of reason!

Does this sound familiar to you?

Parents also tell me that if they try to put their foot down and take the lead, the behaviours only get worse.

What’s your teen been up to lately?

  • Here are some of the common teenager behaviours that drive parents wild:
  • Hiding things or straight out lying
  • Not wanting to go on family outings, events or even spend time with their parents
  • Not listening to, or taking advice
  • Speaking disrespectfully
  • Lack of appreciation for the money they get and poor money management skills
  • Poor health choices (junk food and lack of exercise)
  • Dangerous lifestyles (extreme sports, drugs, alcohol and sexual promiscuity) and the list goes on…

Are you a good role model?

Are you experiencing one or more of these issues with your teens? While no parent would like to admit that they have done many, if not all, of these things themselves as a teen, they’d also hate to admit to doing these things right now and in life in front of their kids.

  • Is it possible that parents actually role model these behaviours for their teens and so unconsciously teach their children to behave this way? Sounds crazy right, but let’s take a close look …
  • Do you hide things from your teens, but want them to be open with you?
  • Are you busy and so spend little quality time with the teens but want them to turn up to the next family function with you playing happy families?
  • How often do you really listen to, and take the advice of, your children but want them to take your advice seriously?
  • Do you speak respectfully to your children or do you just expect them to speak respectfully to you?
  • Do you make poor financial, health or lifestyle choices and then get upset when they do?

While it may feel very confronting to explore questions like these, why not take the plunge and make some time to list down all of the things that your child does that makes you crazy and then see if there are any reflections for you?

Ponder on the reactions you’ve had to your teens worst behaviours and recall how you dealt with them with your child. Did you discuss them in a positive life-enabling way or a threatening, angry self-esteem destroying way?

Want to turn things around? It doesn’t happen overnight but here’s what can you do.

Things to try with your teen

The key is to take a long-term rather than short-term approach by focusing on your relationship and your connection with your teen. Start by reflecting honestly on the following questions. Have you made time to talk with your teen without being judgmental or offering advice? (I know that is SUPER hard to do).

Do you regularly have fun together doing what THEY like to do? Can you remember the last time you asked your children to be part of an important family decision and really listened to and included their input? Do your teens believe that you believe in them and that you respect them or do they mainly hear your criticism and disapproval of their friends and life style?

I’m not suggesting you let your teens run wild, do whatever they want and become best buddies – that would be totally irresponsible and unloving.

I’m suggesting that you communicate with them in a way that they can openly share their thoughts, feelings and needs in a safe environment and that you can help them see consequences and guide them to find solutions to their problems.

If you spend time focusing on your relationship with your teen, building trust, respect and love, you should find they’ll be more open with you and who knows … maybe even ask for your support. This is all about teaching your kids life skills and role modelling how they can get on in the world successfully and, of course, safely.

Send a selfie

And if all else fails, maybe you can send your teen a text or email – you’re probably more likely to get an answer! Why not surprise your teen daughter with a cute or funny selfie? Then send her a loving message for no reason other than to tell her you love her. Love, humour and care are the stuff real relationships are made of.

  • Oh dear, the teenage years are so hard. I was a fair little devil as a teen so i was pleasantly surprised to not have similar issues with my kids

    Reply

  • Really interesting article! Thanks for sharing this!

    Reply

  • gee send a selfie lol that will get their attention

    Reply

  • The teen year – difficult times


    • So true, but looking back on my teen years – there were so many wonderful times too. I guess the key is to share as many wonderful times with our teens as we can and create memories for life

    Reply

  • Thanks for sharing this interesting and thoughtful article with good points. I love the point about responsibility and parents being good role models; difficult to be critical of teenagers if you are making poor choices! We do lead by example! Will be sharing this article with friends.


    • Thank you so much for your positive comments about the article and for being a role model for the next generation… that is the best we can do. Thanks also for sharing my work – very grateful to be able to support as many parents as possible

    Reply

  • I try to think back to when I was a teenager and will help in a way that they can relate to I hope


    • Thinking back might be helpful, but I believe the key is to see how they feel and ask them how you might be able to help because their experience might be quite different to yours. Something to think about. Thanks for your comments

    Reply

  • another thing to remember is, you are not alone, looking round at other successful families, everything may look good on the surface……but everyone has their times with their teens.


    • That’s a great point. While every family is different. At heart we all experience many of the same things in life. Parents can share stories so they don’t feel alone. Thanks for your comment

    Reply

  • Thank you for this insightful article

    Reply

  • the good old teenage years :)

    Reply

  • this has opened my eyes ight up, I never looked at it like that before thank you


    • I love learning about parenting and child development … it feels great to get another “ah ha” moment when adding another tool under my belt… so glad this was interesting and helpful for you and thanks for taking the time to comment!

    Reply

  • Tis easy. Stick ‘em in a barrel at puberty. Feed them through the bung hole. Check at 18. If ok, let out of barrel, if no good, hammer in the bung.

    Reply

  • I found some helpful tips in this article. Thank you

    Reply

  • thank you for the article, it’s great and helpful. I have 4 years old daughter hopefully she dont grow that quick hehehehhehe


    • Our son is 6 and I have loved every stage … I’m with you … I’m in no hurry for him to grow up but I’m leanring all I can about each stage of development so I can be ready to support him all the way. Thanks for your positive feedback about the article

    Reply

  • I think we need to remember when we were teenagers to be able to relate to them these days


    • That’s true, and I also think there are more challenges and dangers for teens today than we had with this new technology, easy access to designer drugs, connections to inappropriate materials and dangerous people on the internet … are parents really equipped to deal with all of this?

    Reply

  • So true I am not so sure about the big decisions conversation you need to be careful that you are also teaching your children/teens that they are not adults and can be in every conversation, with other adults as some parents give their kids to much freedom in this department and they then do not know when they should be involved in adults conversations and when they should leave them alone.


    • I hear where you are coming from, we need to strike a balance between including children in important family conversations and decisions so they feel like they are a part of the family but also help them understand what are adult conversations and decisions. Each family will be different, but we need to help our children learn about life’s challenges in a safe environment and help them develop the knowledge and skills to manage life when they leave home and have to fend for themselves. Thanks for sharing



      • I hope that as teenagers they learn household chores too so that when they leave home they can cook, do laundry, and clean their new home. If they join the Armed Forces they have to do all those chores and they are inspected if living on base. A teenage lad I know was home one day and stood and watched how the washing was sorted, set the washing machine etc.
        He stood there during 2 loads observing. The laundry and adjoing passage were pretty small so his Mum knew he was there so she asked him if there was something he wanted to talk about. His response was that he was watching what she was doing so that if she was sick he could do it. He and his sister knew hout to hang out and bring washing in off the line, folding it as they took it off the line so it didn’t crease, and more would also fit in it.
        There wasn’t synthetic materials then which don’t really crease. Some teens never learn to cook at home – one thing parents have to explain to children that they need to learn

    Reply

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