Closing the Teen-Parent Communication Gap
Got A Teen-Parent Communication Gap?
Twitter, Instagram, FaceBook, YouTube, SnapChat, Messenger, AGHGH! How can a parent compete? Good news. You don’t. Here’s a powerful realization for you: You are the parent. You are the sole ‘owner’ of your child. Though those other applications may hinder your communication with your teen, they can’t completely replace you; and guess what? Your teen really doesn’t want them to. To them, those “distractions” are simply a temporary filler until you are available. With these tips, you can help develop and keep a healthy, stable and relaxed communication link with your teens despite social influences.
The most powerful tool that captures a teen’s heart is love. It’s funny though, love to a teen is typically spelled: T-I-M-E.
The best way to start to improve the communication with your teen is to give them your undivided attention and time (and time away from smart devices as well).
Here are some ideas to encourage you and your teen to communicate via “time together”:
- Participate in their favorite activity.
- Have them show you or work with them on school projects.
- Go for a walk together.
- Plan a “date” between just the two of you.
The idea behind this time together is to let them know you are still there to talk to. You are still there to support them in a non-judging manner. It may be awkward at first getting them to open up, but continue this pattern and it will soon become the norm and you are now your teen’s BFF!
Being interested in them is typically what they crave the most and that’s what they think they are receiving from their social media outlets.
Kick The Bad Habits That Break Effective Communication With Your Teen
1. Eat Together
It’s such a fast-paced world out there, we sometimes forget to sit and eat together. Even if it’s only a couple days per week, it’s better than none at all. During this time, it should just be the family around the table (friends are okay), no smart phones, tablets, iPads, etc. Just you and your family.
Strike up conversations that are easy, non-confrontational and tend to elicit more than, “I don’t know” responses. Good starter phrases to use are:
“I heard about …. tell me more about that”
“What is your favorite …. what makes you say that?”
“I have an idea about …. I value your input, what are your thoughts/what would you do differently?”
“If you could plan …. what are some activities you definitely couldn’t do without?”
“Let’s discover a plan to buy a car….”
“What social media apps are best for….”
Talk about anything digital and techie without using the device. Teens these days are like little experts in the digital world, ask them about it and get some tips for yourself!
2. Share your thoughts
It’s easy to want to get your teen to open up, but what about you? Parents can have a tendency to ‘close up’, limiting their own communication, thinking their children aren’t interested or possibly considering it’s none of their business. The best way your teen is going to learn to open up and communicate with you is to be led by example. And guess what, Parent? You are the example!
Share something with them you never have before. A memory, your favorite vacation, or a time when you and your child were really close. Use positive and funny moments that make you smile; this will in turn make them smile alongside you. The more comfortable you are sharing the joyous stuff on a regular basis, the easier it will be to start sharing more private and serious moments. Those moments are when your teen needs you the most and they now know they have you to talk to.
3. Take A Break From Cyberspace
It’s definitely a wonder… the digital access we have today. All day…every day! And here’s the good news, it’s not going anywhere, so take a break. Get off of social media with your teen and take a day to read together, enjoy the outdoors, watch a movie, play a board game (they do still exist) and just be with your teen without the influence of a notification from a smart device.
Designate one day a week to cyber-break.
It’s okay to be met with objections from your teen. They will adapt and survive one day a week with you, the family and without their device. It’s time they can take for themselves, by reading, writing, cooking, helping around the house, etc. This is a perfect day to make it a “family day”, communicating both verbally and non-verbally without the digital interruptions.
Even if you haven’t been spending as much time with your teen as you may think you should now, don’t beat yourself up for it. Humbling yourself before your teen is a powerful communication and relationship restoration act. Simply apologize for not giving them the time they may be unaware of they secretly crave.
It’s never too late to start closing the communication gap with your teen. The saying, “It’s never too late…” still holds a lot of weight and it’s true. Take the time now to start something new. After all, one day, before you know it, they’ll have teenagers of their own, and it would be great to see how they learn to communicate with them… from you!
Don’t forget to let them know… they’re not in trouble when you start that first conversation!
Get started today and see what funny memories and laughs enter both of your lives by simply communicating more and using the Internet a wee bit less.
Tags: #parenting, children, communicating, communication, connecting with teen, dad, date with teen, mom, nurture, Parent, social media, tech-free, teen, teen activities, teenagers, teens, time together
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Andi is all about having a joyous life, living in the present moments. Rocking it out on the homestead with her husband, 9 blessed children and some chickens and ducks, it’s home for her in northern VA. She’s the Goal Achievement Coach for Mompreneurs who want to surpass every goal they set in motion! Find her over at www.IAmCoachAndi.com.