How to talk to your teen

By Drum Digital
19 January 2011

IF YOU speak to the parents of teenagers they’ll tell you that at about the age of 12 their children changed overnight. From being helpful, sweet, good-natured angels, they suddenly became lazy, messy, argumentative, bad-tempered and disrespectful.

If you’re one of these parents and feel that your child is a different person with whom you have no relationship, don’t worry – help is at hand.

In his latest book, Divas and Door Slammers, behavioural specialist and teacher Charlie Taylor gives parents practical solutions to deal with their teenage kids and handle conflict effectively.

Here, in an extract from the book, are his top tips.

COMMUNICATING WITH TEENAGERS

For many parents, an invisible wall seems to come down between them and their teens, preventing any meaningful communication and allowing only nagging, moaning and endless demands – for food, transportation and money.

It’s easy for parents to start believing their child is causing the trouble and needs to change his or her ways. But the child’s behaviour is unlikely to improve unless parents are prepared to change the way they do things.

RULES Of COMMUNICATING WITH TEENAGERS

* Tone. The tone parents and teenagers use when they speak to each other can develop into a pattern. Parents often think that the response from their teenager will be rude or sarcastic when they ask them, for example, to tidy their room, so they tend to go in fighting. In the same way, teens become so used to hearing the argumentative tone of their parents that they respond to it whether it has been used or not. If parents change their tone of voice and make a point not to sound aggressive or irritable, it’s one of the first steps to improving communication with teens.

* Timing. There are wrong moments to have a difficult conversation – such as when a teen has just come home from school and is tired and grumpy, or when a parent has arrived back from work and feels the same way. If parents improve their tone and text (see next point) they may find their child responds differently, and getting the timing right will become easier.

* Text Think of any difficult conversation you need to have with a spouse, friend or colleague. Often we plan what we’re going to say and how we want things to turn out. As a result, in the heat of the moment when the adrenaline starts to flow, we can still get our message across without getting emotional. Use the same approach with your teen.

Read the full article in DRUM of 27 January 2011

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