Five Tips to Help you to Communicate with your Teen

If you think back to the terrible tantrums of two-year olds – you’ll realise that the teen years can be very similar!  During the two- year old developmental period your two year- old is learning how to push your buttons, push the boundaries and push you over the top!

The teenage years are very similar. Your teen is moving from being a teen to a young adult and its HARD! Its hard for him or her and its hard for the parents (and the rest of the family). They are pulling away from their mums and dad’s but they still need them, so they become confused and frustrated.

Your child is becoming an adult!

Your teen is beginning to make decisions about different things in life – career, friends, girlfriends, boyfriends, their sexuality. They want to learn to drive – they want to buy a car ( or they want YOU to buy them a car)  The thing is – with hormones and pheromones, testosterone and all that hormonal stuff flying around their body, they are at risk of being impulsive and making risky decisions – sex, drink, drugs. 

I remember when my daughter was a teenager, I used to ask her how her day had been. Sometimes I didn’t get an answer – just a shrug – other times an “ok” and occasionally when in a “good mood” it would be “yeah fine”.  Staying close to your teen is difficult, as they become very private and don’t want any interference from mum or dad.

So if all this is all getting you down and you are at your wit’s end with the terrible teens – just remember its not going to last forever, and if you get it right you will end up with a loving, caring and communicative young adult! 

Here are a few tips to help you with the teen struggle:

  1. Listening skills: This is where you will really benefit from having great listening skills. Just listening out for an odd comment that your teen makes – such as – “Aaagh…. I got so angry at that horrid kid at school today”. But, don’t start asking prying questions, just say “well, son if its something you feel you want to talk about with me or your dad just let us know, perhaps we can give you a different slant on it” By keeping it open rather than demanding answers to questions, they are more likely to open up to you! 
  1. Acknowledge their emotions and empathise: As a parent, it’s always hard not to get involved with your teen’s problems and emotional issues. However, if you get too involved and sort out all their problems, they will never learn how to do it for themselves! If your son comes home and says he splitting from his girlfriend, just say “ I’m really sorry about that  just make sure you’ve thought it all through first and if you do need a hug you know I’m here!” In that way, you are not interfering, but he knows you are there for him.
  1. Eat together: I know its hard to get teens to sit with you and have their meals once they’ve reached a certain age, but if you can have at least one or two meals a week together as a family it’s a great time to have some nice chats and find out what everyone in the family is up to. Naturally during this time of lockdown it’s going to be different to normal times – your teen may embrace the time at home or he may become frustrated and angry – revert to your listening skills! 
  1. Keep control of your OWN emotions: It’s so difficult not to snap back at your teen when he or she is being a bit rude or oppositional, but if you can actually keep your cool and be the adult. Count to ten before you reply to him or her, or if you feel really angry – take ten minutes out and have a cuppa!
  1. “Observe everything you see, correct the little things and cherish your teen! “I love that saying! It basically means “don’t sweat the small stuff”! being observant is so important. If you notice your teen is unusually quiet, sad, depressed, or anxious – do gently try and find out why. He may go off his food, you may notice he has been self -harming, or you may smell drugs or alcohol on him. Be supportive, without making judgement – maybe talk to them about the time when you were a teen and tempted to experiment with all sorts!  However, if you feel your teen needs a bit more help, do get in touch with a mental health expert. 

I see many teens at my clinics (and now on line) for anxiety, sadness, depression, school or uni stress, and the sessions go really well because an outsider is listening to them without giving THEIR opinion – they are allowing the teen to vent – to explain how they feel and I give them the tools to help themselves! 

For more information on how therapy can help your teen get through those difficult times please contact me at:

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