4. Parents fail to make the transition from caregiver to coach
When kids are young, it’s easy to communicate as an authority. You are the caregiver who protects them and teaches them how to be in the world.
But adolescence marks the beginning of a change in relationship, where your kids want independence and equality. When we communicate with teens as if they are young children, they may say things like, “You are such a control freak!” Or, they may stop talking to us at all.
Parenting tip: To avoid this communication trap, check yourself. Are you making assumptions about your teen without asking them to weigh in?
If so, try framing your communication with phrases like, “I’m curious about your take on this.” Or, instead of assuming they need your help on homework, you can ask, “Do you need my help with anything?”
5. Parents ask the wrong questions
Some teens I worked with recently told me that the adults in their lives, from their parents to guidance counselors, often asked, “Are you okay?” They collectively agreed that this feels like something is wrong with them and their peers that they aren’t seeing.
While I just said that they are bad interpreters, they do have a point. Adults seem stressed out, and that stress is passed along to our kids without us even realizing it.
Parenting tip: I asked this insightful group of teens what kinds of questions they want to be asked and here is a good answer: “When I hear my mom talk to her friends, she asks questions that are related to what her friend said.”
Teens want to be conversed with, not probed.
6. Parents forget what it’s like to be a kid
Two highly successful parents I know are always trying to get their sons to be more organized and to stop procrastinating. Fed up by their parents never-ending “helpful suggestions”, one of the boys said, “You do things well…for 45-year-olds. I’m 15!”
This desire to help and fix comes from the part of a parent who wants to protect. But to a kid, it’s perceived as a lack of trust or faith.
Parenting tip: If your teen is doing okay enough, but his ways are less than optimal, leave him be. Bonus if you can acknowledge that his approach is working for him right now.
Now that you know what causes communication problems with parents and teens, you can shift even one of these habits. Your teen is under construction in almost every way, so this is why people may suggest not to take their behavior personally.
The teen years are a beautiful mess of a time, but stay connected to that mess.
Use a teen’s ability to live in the moment to your advantage. If you are guilty of some of these communication misfires, it’s not too late to change them. Two weeks from now, they won’t remember your old ways!
Written by Helaina Altabef
Originally appeared in Yourtango
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