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Starting meaningful conversations with your teen is not always easy. You want to connect with them and build a positive relationship that includes good communication, but it can be challenging at times!
Being a teen these days is filled with many ups and downs. Teens experience pressure in many aspects of their lives, and they need support from their parents. In order to help them, you need to gain their trust by starting conversations with them that are authentic and spending time getting to know their needs and interests.
We will be discussing the various ways that you can start a meaningful conversation with your teen and show them that you are interested in their lives and you support them. These tips will help you engage with your teen and improve your relationship with them.
1. Focus On Using Positive and Encouraging Words
Teens may act like they don’t need encouraging words or approval, but they still need it, especially from their parents. When starting conversations with your teen, use positive words to motivate and encourage them.
Being a teen can be overwhelming. There are always new challenges, goals and tasks that need to be completed. If your teen is going through challenges, use positive words to support them. This will help them overcome the challenges they’re facing and encourage them to work hard and believe in themselves.
Your teen is constantly growing and learning about themselves and what they’re capable of. When having meaningful conversations with them, use words such as, “You’re doing great” and “I’m so proud of you!”. This will increase their confidence and motivation.
By using positive affirmations, encouraging words and being aware of how you communicate with your teen, you will create better relationships with them and motivate them in powerful ways.
2. Allow Them the Space to Express Their Feelings
Did you know that teens love sharing? They want to talk about their day and share their feelings and opinions about things, but they don’t always feel comfortable doing so. In order to have meaningful conversations, you need to create a comfortable space for your teen.
If you want them to express their feelings, try doing it first. You can share your feelings about certain topics or simply just tell them about your day. This will allow them to express themselves and feel comfortable sharing their feelings with you.
If your teen is starting conversations and expressing their feelings, make sure that you are validating them. Don’t invalidate their feelings by saying, “This will blow over after high school” or “It’s not a big deal”. Whatever they’re feeling is important to them, so always listen and make them feel like their feelings are valid.
3. Show Them That You Care About What They Have to Say
Showing your teen that you care about what they have to say is important when having meaningful conversations. You want them to open up and be honest, so when they do, listen attentively and show positive regard to what they’re saying.
For example, when starting conversations with them, always give your full attention by making eye contact and nodding as you listen. Showing that you care through your actions is just as important as your words.
If your teen is talking about an issue or challenge, show them that you care by offering to help in any way. By offering to help, you allow them to ask questions or address any issues. This will make them feel supported and shows that you care about their opinions and challenges.
4. Try to See Things From Their Perspective
Think back to how life was when you were a teen. Did you have a parent who had meaningful conversations with you and saw things from your perspective? If not, work towards creating a better relationship with your teen.
Many teens think that their parents don’t understand them and the challenges they face. Even though you faced challenges as a teen, every generation is different. You won’t know what your teen is going through until they communicate with you, but it is important to see things from their perspective.
Always try to imagine what they are going through and how you would react if you were in their situation. Once you understand their perspective, you can communicate positively and build a healthy relationship with them.
5. Talk About Topics That Interest Them
Teens are not easily starting conversations because they feel misunderstood by their parents. Instead of trying to have meaningful conversations with them about your interests, try talking about things that they like and you know will be interesting to them.
If they enjoy watching movies, try talking about the latest movies that are trending. If they are into sport, try to start a conversation about a sports game or any news related to the teams they support. Encourage them to explore their interests.
Your teen will enjoy starting conversations with you and talking about their interests. This will help you build a healthy relationship with them, where you can have fun conversations and learn about what they like.
6. Spend Some Quality Time With Them
Making time for your teen is important and shows that you care. Spending quality time with them will help them to open up and express their feelings. Starting conversations with them will be easier when you spend time with them regularly.
Look for activities where you can spend time together and participate in conversations. You can ask them to choose an activity that they like. Examples of activities include walking, working out, cooking together, hiking or shopping.
Spending quality time with them and participating in the activities they like will allow them to feel relaxed and comfortable with you. This leads to meaningful conversations where they feel comfortable enough to share things with you.
7. Support Them Rather Than Criticise Them
Teens are faced with many challenges and feel pressured growing up. Even though they feel pressured, they usually make the right decision. What they need is a parent who supports their decisions and avoids criticism.
If your teen is doing something that you don’t agree with, start a meaningful conversation with them by stating that you care and you want the best for them. Offer your help and don’t judge them. If they feel supported, they will listen to your advice and make better decisions.
It is best to support them without pointing out what they are doing wrong. If they feel supported, they will easily come to you for help and they will take your advice without feeling criticised.
If you would like to learn how to support your teen and the opportunities available to nurture your parent-teen relationship, click here.
8. Ask Them Meaningful Questions
By starting meaningful conversations that can’t be answered with a yes or no, you are allowing your teen to open up and communicate better with you. By asking them thought-provoking questions, you will learn more about their deeper thoughts and opinions.
If you are asking questions like, “How are you?”, they will most likely reply with one word. Instead, say something like “Tell me about your day” or “Tell me about something that interests you”. This will make them participate in the conversation and keep them engaged.
By asking meaningful questions, you allow your teen to share the best of themselves. They will also have the opportunity to ask for your opinion and advice about a certain topic that they wouldn’t have discussed with you if you didn’t ask these questions. Meaningful interactions encourage self-reflection for you and your teen and build stronger relationships.
9. Listen to Them Instead of Trying to “Fix” Them
Some parents usually try to fix a problem before they understand it. When starting conversations with your teen, always make sure that you listen attentively to them and only offer advice if they ask for it.
Your teen needs to feel heard and know that you are listening to them without judgement. Allow them to explain a situation or problem without interrupting them or trying to “fix” the problem. Oftentimes teens will solve an issue on their own and they just need someone to listen to them and support their decisions.
10. Don’t Force Them to Talk to You
Teens can become very self-conscious and are not always ready to share things. You shouldn’t expect them to tell you everything, but always make sure that they know they can come to you for help and advice.
If you are starting conversations with them and you notice that they are quiet, don’t ask too many questions. Instead, let them know that you care and that they can talk to you when they are ready. Giving them space is important when building a meaningful relationship.
If your teen is struggling and you would like to learn how to keep them motivated or you want to share tips with them on how to build resilience, please click here to read our blog with tips and tricks on how to stay motivated on a day-to-today basis.
11. Get To Know Them Better
In order to connect and communicate with your teen, you need to get to know them better. You can do this by starting conversations that involve their likes, hobbies, interests and school and social life.
A way to get them to open up is to find common ground and ask questions that will interest them. Talk about your own life and what you are interested in. If they can relate to you, they will talk about their likes and hobbies. If you don’t have anything in common, don’t panic. This is a great opportunity to just listen.
If you want to start meaningful conversations, you need to try new things with your teen and take part in their hobbies. Let them decide what to do together. For example, if they enjoy photography, you can take photos together or you can ask them to model for them. This will be fun for both of you and you will learn things about each other.
If they feel like you are interested in getting to know them and spending time with them doing something they like, they are more likely to do things with you. This will build your relationship and make it easier to start meaningful conversations.
12. Be Mindful of What They’re Going Through
As a parent, you feel like you need to tell your teen how they should handle situations but it is more important to be mindful of what they’re going through and allow them to make their own decisions.
Instead of saying “You are not studying or participating in school”, try asking “How is school going?” or “Are you prepared for exams or do you need any help?”. By asking them questions in a sensitive manner, you can help them without pressuring them.
You should understand that their struggles are genuine and very important to them. It’s important to show up for them during their good moments, but also pay attention to the challenges they’re facing and support them through it.
It can be really difficult for them to open up, especially when they’re struggling, so this is when you have to be patient. By being mindful and sensitive, your teen won’t feel blamed or judged in any way. This will feel comfortable starting meaningful conversations with you.
Starting conversations with your teen can be difficult at times. Using the 12 ways above will show them that you care and you support them no matter what. By showing encouragement and spending time with them, you can help them grow into responsible, successful adults!
Would you like to find out more about how to create an open communication space between you and your teen? Sign up for our free parent webinar, Inspiring Authentic Conversations with Your Teen, by clicking here! You can also get in touch to find out more about our programmes and courses by filling out this quick form.