Jamie Copaken, Psychotherapist © 2017 | All Rights Reserved
How Do I Talk to My Teenager?
Tips for Opening Communication with Your Adolescent Son or Daughter
Jamie Copaken, LCSW, LSCSW
My sweet daughter has turned into a monster!
And your son locks himself in his room. They’re so different now that they’re teenagers. What happened?
Mention that you’re raising a teenager, and your friends may groan or nod their head in knowing sympathy. Some teenagers are little trouble, but many test their parents’ patience to no end. This can make parents feel frustrated, confused, angry, hurt and inadequate.
Every parent could use “insider tips” on how to deal with a troublesome teenager. Especially now that the problems you face can have such permanent and damaging consequences. You can ask family, friends, and clergy for advice. In addition, here is some insight from experts in social work, counseling, and psychology. Using this guide may help you communicate better. It should help your teen hear you and you hear him.
Is my kid normal?
Does it seem your teenager is allergic to you? You may not like this feeling, but it is normal. This is what happens when teenagers try to stop being children and start becoming adults. This can be a difficult process, as they abandon childish behavior and beliefs and try acting and thinking for themselves.
As they turn away from childish things, it makes sense that they turn away from you and your advice. During this process, they may be dismissive of your thoughts and opinions. But they will still absorb what you say, so keep trying.
Does he know my values?
The most common teenager-parent interaction is around chores and curfews. But what about the bigger issues? Do they know how you feel about education, trust, religion, and family? What about drinking, drugs, sex, stealing, violence, and gangs? What about suicide, depression, cutting, and eating disorders? Continue to discuss these and other issues that are important to you. You have to build an ongoing dialogue, not just give a five-minute lecture.
Why is my child not succeeding in school?
This could be due to several reasons. He could be emotionally upset about some major change in his life. He could be rebelling against your wishes. He could be trying to fit in with friends who won’t like him if he’s “too smart.” The material may be too difficult for him. He could have a learning difference/disability. Maybe he has too many activities and chores and has no time to study. Maybe he has no quiet place to study. Ask him and his teachers.
She never does homework.
The best way to get a teen to do her homework is to supervise her.
How do I talk to my teenager so he hears me?
A loving relationship cannot exist without communication. Kids have valuable things to say and, when a parent listens openly and genuinely, it builds self-esteem and confidence – for you and your kid.
She says I never listen to her. How do I listen when she makes me so angry?
He’s come to me with a problem, what do I do?
Have confidence that you are the right person for the job. Let him express himself. Try not to interrupt. Ask him if he can come up with a solution himself. Help him brainstorm several options, and discuss which one he picks.
Giving advice can make a teen feel helpless and less independent. Try to get him to come up with the solution himself. If that fails and the situation is serious enough that you must advise, do so.
“What did you do today?” “Nothing.”
How do you get a silent kid to open up? Short answers and not wanting to talk to parents is all part of being a teenager. But keep trying. They’ll be glad you did.
I never talked to my parents that way.
You probably didn’t. But today’s kids, like it or not, have changed. They are less fearful, less obedient and more outspoken. In most situations, threatening them and inducing fear may only provoke anger and resentment – for both of you. It also teaches kids that the only way to get what they want is through fear and intimidation.
How do I talk to her about drugs and alcohol?
What is abuse?
If a parent hits a child of any age and it leaves a mark, it could be legally defined as abuse. Other forms of abuse include emotional and sexual abuse. These have legal ramifications.
What is parenting?
It’s the balance of setting limits and letting go of some control, even when the risks are so high. It’s loving unconditionally, even when the kids act like they don’t want it. It’s doing what you think is best, even if you have no idea. It’s OK to have flaws, and it’s OK to change your mind.
Advice straight from the kids:
I need more information.
This guide is only a brief beginning to understanding the complexities of parenting and raising teenagers. Each individual and situation is unique. Continue to trust yourself and talk with friends, family, clergy, community centers and professional counselors for more help.
I am available to answer any questions you might have, so please contact me. Also, check your library, bookstore or video store and web sites. Some of the above information was from the following resources:
James (Jamie) Copaken, LCSW, is a psychotherapist, working in private practice with children, adults, couples, and families.