Having conversations with teenagers can be difficult, as each discussion is affected by the strong emotions and hormones that they’re experiencing due to puberty. Life stressors around the home can also dramatically affect the way that they handle conversations, which can cause them to appear insensitive or rude.
When you have to navigate a difficult conversation with your teenager, consider following these tips to improve your chances of a successful outcome.
Speak Clearly and Calmly
Regardless of the topic that you need to talk about, it’s important that you speak as clearly and calmly as possible. Teenagers can handle a lot, but it’s important to provide them with the facts without too much extra emotion to cloud the issue. This is especially true in cases of death, disease, and accidents. If you have a family member who has recently been diagnosed with a disease, provide some information about it. For example, each year in the United States, between 8,000 and 18,000 people are hospitalized with Legionnaires’ disease. Then, explain how that fact applies to the situation that your family is experiencing.
Do Not Pass Judgment
Provide an open space for your teenager to talk with you about anything that they need to bring up. Avoid passing judgment on the information that they share. Instead, keep this space safe for them to share information with you so that you can help them make better decisions in the future. This is especially important when it comes to peer pressures that many teens experience at school and at social gatherings outside of school hours. This is especially important when it comes to safety, alcohol, and driving as a DUI can have serious consequences. In fact, in Pennsylvania, a second DUI conviction can result in jail time between five days and six months.
Listen, Listen, Listen
Do your best to listen more than you speak. Your teenager likely has a great deal to say, and you may not always like how they say it. However, it’s important that you provide them with the space to speak and to take the time to listen to what they say. You may learn new information, and you may be able to help them make better decisions or provide them with useful advice.
Be Understanding and Patient
It’s crucial that you do your best to be understanding and patient throughout the conversation. You may not always like what your child has to say, and they may share information with you that you’re unhappy about. However, spending the time to be patient and understanding, even when you’re unhappy with them, can be an investment in future conversations and can help keep everyone calm even in unforeseeable circumstances.
Offer Comforting Advice
Spend some time processing what your teen has discussed with you. Then, offer comforting advice about the situation. In the event of a death, for example, you can share that cremation is becoming increasingly popular for deceased humans and pets alike, depending on the specific situation that you’re discussing. Cremation allows you to keep your loved one with you and their memory alive even after death. This type of advice can go a long way toward helping your teen feel more at ease in a difficult situation.
Talking to teens isn’t the easiest thing to do, but it’s important to dedicate the time to learning as much as you can about the situation, listening to what your teenager has to say, and providing them with comfort and advice throughout the conversation. Focus on expressing yourself clearly and calmly without yelling or getting too emotional, even if you’re upset about their behavior. Avoid passing judgment and instead work with them to develop a solution to the problem. When you’re dealing with a difficult life event, working through it with your teen and providing important information can help them feel included and can help them learn how to better handle these types of situations in the future.