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What? Communicate with your teenager? You’ve probably tried to communicate with your teenager.  Has the conversation turned into arguing and both of you walking away frustrated and angry?  The important thing is to never give up trying to communicate with your teenager. Although it may seem impossible, there are ways to develop a relationship. Working on a relationship is hard. The suggestions listed below may not work the first time. Your teenager may be suspicious of your intent.

Maybe you have been judgmental in the past or have tried to tell them what to do and they did not want to listen. They might not trust you or want to spend time with you.  You feel you’ve tried it all. You are at the end of your hope for the two of you ever being able to develop a relationship. Yet, your teenager means a lot to you and you want to try to communicate.

Here are some tips to help with communicating. The ideas listed below must be present for communication with your teenager to work. These tips help your teenager want to open up to you or for them to spend time with you.

Important tips during activities

  • Do not bring up things your teenager has done wrong.

  • Keep the conversation fun and light.

  • Talk about what THEY want to talk about.

  • Do not be judgmental with what they share with you.

  • Be sure to tell them how much you love them and appreciate them taking the time to spend with you.

  • LISTEN—look at them in the eyes as they talk.

  • Repeat what they say back to you from time to time so they know you are being fully attentive.

  • Let them know before you do the activity that you are not going to bring up negative topics and that you just want to have fun.

5 suggestions for activities to help with communicating 

  1. Talk over dinner. What teenager doesn’t like to eat? How about fixing a meal for just the two of you? Fix their favorite meal, set aside a time, and ask other family members to stay in another room while you eat. You can explain to your teenager that you miss them and you want to spend some time with them.

  2. Invite them to go on their favorite activity. See the shock on your teenager’s face when you ask THEM to choose where you go together. Have just the two of you go on the activity.

  3. Take time every night to ask them how their day went (in a private location). Try not to judge or give advice (unless they ask). If they do ask, be careful to include their thoughts and ideas too. Don’t tell them what they HAVE to do, just give suggestions.

  4. Let them pick the music on the radio in the car once in awhile. It may be hard to listen to your teenager’s music. Let them turn it on and then ask them what they like about it. You might learn some things about them you didn’t know before.

  5. Tell them they can sleep in one morning and that you’ll make them breakfast in bed. Bring them breakfast and then sit and talk with them while they eat.

These suggestions may seem one-sided, like you’re doing all the work and spoiling your teenager. This may seem like more work for you. The fact is though, you must be the one that compromises in order to gain precious time and communication with your teenager. How important is your relationship with your son or daughter? Is it worth spending a little bit of extra time with them?

The important thing is to never give up trying to communicate with your teenager. You may try these tips and suggestions and they don’t work right away. Don’t stop trying!  Your teenager may be testing you to see if you really are willing to spend time with them. If they say they are too busy to have a meal or to do something fun with you this week, ask them if you can do it next week. Let them see how much you really care by being persistent, loving, and caring (even if they don’t portray that back to you).

Copyright: No part of this article in section or full may be reproduced without permission from the author Connie Hanson, MS CMHC. The one and only exception is for educational purposes and only if the contact information below for the author is fully cited here in article. Connie Hanson, MS CMHC, 230 N 1680 E W-2, St. George, UT 84790, 435-767-1064

If you are interested in reading more about my approach to teen counseling click here.