Four C’s for Communicating with Your Teen

communicating with teens

My wife, Susan, is really good at communicating with our four teenagers and twenty year old.  In fact, I often seek her advice on how I should handle various situations with our kids.

So I asked Susan to write about the four C’s for communicating with your teen.  Here is the wisdom she shares.

1. Check Your Emotions

When you approach a teen with a lot of emotion, such as anger, anxiety or enthusiasm, it can make a teen feel pressured to comply.  That approach doesn’t work because teens crave independence.  They see themselves as older and capable, and as a result they want to make more decisions for themselves.  Instead, try approaching calmly and be open to discussion.  This will take the pressure off the teen, and keep the conversation from escalating into opposition.

2. Be Confident

Teens can be very persuasive, and as their persuasive ability increases you may lose your confidence and begin to doubt yourself.  If your teen is persuasive and persistent, the confidence goes even more quickly as the teen wears you out!  Stand firm and know when you are weakening.  Enlist your spouse to pinch hit with you and interface with the teen for awhile.  Another option is to have a friend be a sounding board for your doubts and encourage you.

3. Be Clear

Make your request clear and have the details of the request firmly in your mind, or better yet, written out on paper.  All children know how best to win over, or distract, their parents.  Teens are children with a lot of years of experience.  Do not let them distract you with other issues, stick to the clear request you have outlined.

4. Be Concise

Teens are very cryptic; think text messaging.  Long, complicated speeches are exasperating to them, especially after listening to seven teachers for seven hours every school day.  Present your request calmly, confidently, clearly and concisely.  Do not make it a big deal.  Listen to your teen’s response, acknowledge what they say and then either modify your request or restate it again.  If they agree to your request, acknowledge it positively.  If they do not agree, do not engage; simply tell them you will discuss it with them again in a few days.  Then walk away and let them think about it.

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