The parent/teen relationship can be a difficult one to navigate. We have to remember though that no teen wants a bad relationship with their parents. Well, then why do you struggle so much communicating with your teen? According to Dr. Cameron Caswell, our teens act out because they feel misunderstood. They feel misunderstood, because they usually are misunderstood. We often expect teens to know instinctively how to communicate, but that skill is not one that comes naturally. Combined with the fact that their brains aren’t fully developed, no wonder it seems like we are speaking different languages. Many times we interpret their tone and words as disrespect when they just don’t know how else to express themselves. They are doing the best they can, with what they know right now. If they are struggling, they need us to take the time to teach them. Rather than get mad at them, we need to maybe adjust our approach.
Dr. Cam’s Ideas for Better Communication
- Stay calm. Don’t add more emotion to their emotions. This is easier said than done sometimes. Give them space to become calm and keep this question in mind, “What is it I am trying to achieve in this moment.”
- Get curious. Ask them why they are acting this way and really listen. The most important parenting skill you can learn is how to listen. Teens often don’t feel heard. We can’t change how they feel, but we can change how we show up.
- Let go of your expectations. Sometimes our expectations don’t even make sense. We may expect them to do something just because we had to do that when we were teens.
- Prioritize time with your kids. The most important thing that we can do to set up our kids up for success is connection with us. We need to not just say we care, we need to show it by being present and willing to change ourselves.
To hear even more great insight from Dr. Cam about how you can become better at communicating with your teen, listen to this week’s podcast.