Improving the channel of communication between yourself and your teenager is essential to a respectable and loving parent-child relationship. Just as a radio channel signal must to be clear in order for listeners to hear and understand the voices communication between a parent and their teenager must be clear. There are some essential communication tools that can improve the quality of communication with teenagers;
- Set boundaries that reflect your values and provide appropriate punishment
- Ask and value their opinions
- Give them privacy
- Develop an interest in their life
- Let them know you believe in their potential as a human being and that they are of precious value to you and to the world
Listening is different to hearing. Often people are having a conversation that consists of them sharing their opinion and then while the other person speaks they are thinking about what they are going to respond without listening. Listening is not a natural quality a lot of people posses rather it is cultivated and developed through constant effort. Listening means that when someone else is talking you are listening to their words, focused on their countenance and sensitive to their emotions. When a person truly listens to another they pick up signals the other person is sending out such as body language. Body language is a huge tool to help one understand the feelings of another. By focusing on another person that person will feel important and therefore are more likely to respect your opinion.
With your teenager they might use phrases such as, "you just don't understand" or "fine, whatever." These phrases are closed and basically say "you don't care about my opinion so I'm not going to listen to you." If you teenager is constantly repeating "you just don't understand" then ask her to explain what is so important to her and listen. Now just because you listen and focus all you attentions on your teenager doesn't mean that you need to agree with then. But it will provide them with an opportunity to evaluate their own feelings and values. Teenagers don't think that their parents were ever teenagers. Sometimes sharing appropriate stories of being a teenager and making decisions can make you more tangible and real to you teenager.
Purely being your teenager's best friend will do them no favors. Teenagers need structure. Without rules and consequences they will never be prepared for the wide world which awaits them. With this said there must be a balance. Too many rules and not enough freedom will only cause your teenager to rebel. Decide what is must important to you, what do you value must about life. Avoid giving them set rules and provide them with principles. A principle is an accepted code of conduct that may apply in many facets of life. Here are some examples:
Don't yell - Be respectful
Don't make a mess - Take care of your possessions
You must clean your room - cleanliness of next to Godliness
Use your manners - Acknowledge your blessings through an attitude of gratitude
The only way that your teenagers will integrate these principles into their life is if they see them exemplified through your actions.
When deciding an appropriate consequence to bad behavior involves your teenager. Have family discussions and ask them what they think would be an appropriate consequence. This way when they are disobedient they can not moan about the consequence because they helped create it. Also involving your teenager in the discipline process is a manifestation that you care about what they think and that elevates them with a sense of maturity.
Teenagers are developing their ideas and opinions about the world in which they live and although those with evolve throughout their life they thrive on sharing their present thoughts. Ask you teenager what they think about smoking, teenage pregnancy, sex, underage drinking, higher education, work ethics etc... By asking then the questions they will be thinking about those topics and will be more likely to make logical and smart choices.
Everyone enjoys some privacy especially teenagers who's body is changing with soaring hormones. The emotional rollercoaster that accompanies the teen years often calls for some well need privacy.
If your teenager knows you are interested in their life and their hobbies they will feel more comfortable in sharing things with you.
If you can try to always discipline with love your teenagers will soon learn that you do all you do because you love them. Tell them that they have great potential because of who they are rather than because they were captain of the football team or received an "A" in an exam. This doesn't that these things are not accomplishments but make sure you are praising your teenagers for the choices they make and person they are becoming.