From listening to every bit of mama’s instruction, your child is now transitioning into a personality with a mind of defiance. If you resonate with this, you are in the right place. Being able to communicate effectively with your teenager is a skill to learn. While every conversation is important and impactful, there are some underlying principles that you could follow at home which will benefit not only your teenager but also enhance the home environment.
Principle of Reflection
“Well, do you think this could have been done in any other way?”
As a parent, you sense losing control of a child who was once so dependent on you. While this could be frustrating, it is also understandable. When your teenager starts making decisions with or without your approval, an impactful stance for you to take would be to help with reflective skills. Engage her in a discussion that allows her to reflect on a made decision. This also helps her to practise this skill in different areas of life as an essential part of the decision-making process, being able to reflect and regulate her thinking patterns under your guidance.
Allow a little autonomy in your young adult. Once she notices that her judgments and her need for independence are being valued, she is likely to be open for a discussion when real situations arises.
Principle of Listening
“It’s alright, go on. I’m here to listen and understand what you have to say”
As a parent, you are the adult. Given that benefit, as an adult, you might think you are right most of the time. Well, you might be, Nevertheless, while you have an opinion, an important area for you to indulge in, is active listening skills. Your teenager wants to be heard and you must be sure to listen. This communication need not be verbal alone. It could be through behaviour patterns, nonverbal cues, thought processes, exclusive writing etc. Be open to active listening wherein you play the part of making sure your child understands that she is being listened to. Sometimes your child doesn’t need the advice you so readily might want to give. All she probably wants is to be heard. Watch out for cues that could indicate that your child needs help or support.
Principle of Expectations
“I appreciate the effort you are putting in to achieve your goal”
With age comes responsibility. As much as you understand that, a whole deal of irritation can whoosh through when you realise that your adolescent is not doing what is expected. This also leads to communication in which the child and parent end up irritated. Laying down expectations for your teenager should be done with her. This enables her to understand her responsibility in a task to be completed.
Principle of Empathy
“Well, it’s fair that you have your opinion and I respect that. However, I think differently as a parent”
Learning to understand each other is a crucial skill in crossing out unnecessary differences. Being able to empathise with your teenager and helping her know that, will make her be assured of a strong support system. This need not mean that you would agree on everything, but that you would agree to disagree after understanding her point of view. Being empathetic further empowers her to be able to deal well with conflicts around and within her.
Principle of Mutual Respect
“This is what I think you should do to respect me. What must I do to show you respect?”
Though being respectful is basic, this must run through the way you and your teenager speak to each other, behave with each other and listen to each other. Establishing a culture of respect at home communicates to your child that she is as important as everyone else in the house despite the differences with age and role played in the family. Creating a set of behaviour at home to be followed by all, could be a first step into respecting each other. You can further build on this as a family – what you need and what you don’t. It teaches her to build choices, values and support systems on the foundations of respect.
At the end of the day, you are the parent. Your child needs your two pennies in whatever she does. Remember, your child needs a parent, not a friend.