How to Talk to a Teen

Written by Pam MS, NCSP | Fact checked by Psychology Dictionary staff 

Many parents and adults see communication with teenagers as inherently difficult or even impossible. It doesn?t have to be. By understanding the basic thought processes of a developing mind, parents can easily communicate with their teenagers. Ultimately, by properly communicating with teens, parents can foster an environment of open communication and collaboration with their children.

Treat Them Like Adults

This seems counterintuitive, but it works incredibly well. Teens do not want to be treated like children. They are blossoming into sassy and rebellious pre-adults, and they just can?t handle being talked at. They need to be spoken to as if they are already full-blown adults. Speak to a teen like an adult, and see how well they respond. This comes as a surprise to many parents who are still trying to talk to their teenagers like children.

Avoid The Lecture

The lecture is one of the most dreaded consequences for teenagers. Once the lecture begins, parents can just assume that all hope is lost for communicating the intended message. Teens shut off to this type of conversation style. It needs to be avoided at all costs. It?s important to remember that the lecture can be abandoned at any time. Teens will appreciate it, and be more open to a less hostile conversation.

Show Respect and Appreciate Value

Teenagers are so hung up on respect. They need to feel like their opinions, feelings and viewpoints are appreciated. During a conversation with a teen, it?s so important to show respect for the feelings that are being communicated. If a teen feels underappreciated or disrespected, he or she will immediately shut off or become more recalcitrant. Showing appreciation for a teen?s viewpoint is also a great way to foster a more open environment for communication.

Be a Good Listener

Talking to a teen isn?t just about talking. It?s about listening. They are going through physically, mentally, emotionally and physiologically demanding changes. Teens may seem incredibly melodramatic, but they still need to be listened to. Developing good listening skills should be a top priority for any parent with teenaged children. Teens will be more likely to speak openly with parents who are good listeners. Talking with teens shouldn?t be this impossible ordeal. Adults just need to understand how teens want to be spoken to. Perhaps, new styles of communication need to be adopted for successfully talking to teen listeners.

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