Mother has a casual talk with her childA study commissioned by a famous London medical group recently stated that 8% of adolescents will have issues with anger and of course angry teens are difficult to engage with and this in itself can cause a rift, lets face it parenting is difficult enough. The bigger worry is that an angry teen who doesn’t get the right support or opportunity to explore their anger will grow into an angry adult.

Some anger is perfectly normal, but when it becomes problematic, when it affects our ability to sustain relationships and a sense of calm, then its time to explore it. Easier said than done I hear you say! Teenagers can be very difficult to engage with at the best of times, and when there is a problem it can feel like we are attempting to have a conversation with an alien.

Teen troubles and pressures may be a lot different from we had to face at their age, its a different world and the ways we need communicate have changed too. One of the biggest issues I hear when working with parents who say they can’t connect with their child is that there just seems to be a wall of silence and misunderstanding.

Parenting a teen is more difficult today than ever before, so much has changed, getting them to sit down and listen is very difficult, so if thats not working, what can we do?

Well, instead of trying to get them to listen and failing day after day, week after week and month after month, maybe we need to change our ways. Remember, ‘If you do what you always did, you will get what you always got’.

So lets explore a new way of tackling this, if we can’t get them to sit and listen, we could try building a better rapport by creating short, mini conversations of a positive nature, things like ‘how was your day, did you do anything nice’ the secret is to not look or sound too intense, carry on with what you are doing, like they do, of course give them your full attention, but look and sound like its a casual enquiry, most of all listen and respond positively.

The reason why most teens and adolescents stop communicating with us adults is they feel we nag and don’t understand them, they may also feel that all they hear is negativity so they often opt out of conversation. For them to change, we have to change too. Its important to listen more than we talk when we are trying to fix a communication problem, that goes for problems in any relationship.

Try having those short conversations on the hop, they are much less threatening if we are preoccupied with something else, even if we’re not really busy. Build the conversations gradually and build them until you have a good rapport again, you will find that the more you listen, the easier it will be for your teen to feel they can talk to you.

So to summarise here are my Top 5 Teen Connection Tips

  • Start off with short exchanges and don’t expect too much
  • Ask open questions, those which can’t easily be answered with a yes or a no
  • Be positive and encouraging
  • Take an interest but don’t look or sound intense
  • Listen more than you talk – we have two ears and one mouth, use them proportionately

If you have problems communicating with your child, regardless of what age they are, I can share more strategies for creating better relationships and communication skills

Paul Parkin – Online Counsellor and Life Coach