How to Communicate Effectively with Emotional Teenagers

Teenagers: hormones are raging, peer pressure is rife, thoughts are running riot and no-one, absolutely no-one, could ever understand how hard their life is! 

It’s really a wonder we get through it. But that we do, and then we have to contend with the vicious cycle of life. Suddenly your children have grown up and now it’s you on the receiving end of all those hormones. Your parents, and the grandparents of the now teenage grandchildren, might go so far as to call karma, but that won’t help. 

What might help, is the secret to unlocking how to communicate effectively with your emotional teens.  


Teenagers and Communication 

Teenagers and communication are not necessarily two words you would associate as going together. Instead, what you might think would be more likely are grunts, shouting, slammed doors, arguments and lots of eye rolling.  

However, avoiding these types of behaviours makes it more important than ever to focus on how to communicate effectively with your emotional teenager.  

Your teenager is going through a lot, they are slowly growing up and figuring out who they are, what they believe in, who they love and what they want in life. Sometimes their beliefs can stand in stark contrast to yours and this may make it even harder to talk to them.   

In general, some topics are more difficult than others, for example sexuality, drugs, alcohol and politics, however improving your general daily communication could lead to more open and honest conversations with your teenager – and in doing so, improve your relationship. 

As a parent, it is crucial for your child to feel heard and respected, as well as for you to provide support and guidance when needed, whilst also giving them enough space. More often than not, this can feel like an impossible balancing act, but just remember – it is something you are struggling with together.  

Cast your mind back to your own emotional teenage years and read on as we explore what your teenager is going through and how to effectively communicate with them. 


Be a good listener 

Essentially, listen to your teenager how you like to be listened to yourself. Allow them to talk about their interests and beliefs and show respect, even if you don’t agree with their opinions.  

If you disagree, start a healthy dialogue about how you both differ in perspective. Maybe you will be able to find some middle ground and in doing so, you may also improve your relationship. 

Let your teenager speak (and finish speaking) before jumping in to give advice or admonish. 


Try not to judge – be open 

It’s important to understand the way they think.  

Ask them why they think in a certain way and tell them you want to understand them better, so that you can have a better relationship. Or perhaps if they have acted in a way you can’t understand (or don’t agree with) assume they had a reason and ask them for it.  


Be there to help 

Even though teenagers are trying to venture out into the world as individuals, they still need to know you are there and that you care. Your role is to give them the space they need, whilst making it clear you are available for a chat anytime. 

Carefully worded questions can be a good way to show them that you are there, whilst letting them decide if they want you to be involved.  

Good questions can be: 

  • Will you tell me what’s been happening? 
  • I’ve noticed you haven’t been yourself, is everything okay? 
  • Can I do anything to help? 
  • What I think might help is __, do you think that might help too? 

If in doubt, go for the open-ended questions such as ‘How…?’, ‘What…?’ or ‘Why…?’ 


Choose a good time to talk 

Often, pressure can be taken off of a conversation while you are doing something else. Try to have open or more difficult chats while you are doing something together, such as cooking a meal, going for a walk or even driving them to an afterschool activity.  


Pick your battles 

Constant criticism or reactions are unhelpful and make it harder for your teenagers to distinguish when you are really serious about something. Choose the ones that really matter, and let the others go – some things are more important than others.  

Teenagers may also be anxious to tell you things because they are worried about how you might react, especially if you react negatively to a lot of what they say or do.  


Don’t react with anger  

Your teenager is already emotional. Don’t add to the already tumultuous emotions with your own, if you can help it.  

If you feel your anger or hurt getting the best of you, remove yourself from the situation and return later when you have calmed down. Explain to your teenager why you have done this and also let them know that this is a good way to deal with tough, emotional situations during life.  

It’s hard, but often parents receive the brunt of the worst behaviour – teens know they can take it on their parents when they are upset.  

Keep in mind that seeing them at their worst also means that you do experience them during their best times to – treasure those moments, they are special.  


How we can help at All About Kids 

At All About Kids, we are a team that works together to provide the best support for your family. We also offer additional support for parents and carers, to provide advice and answer any questions you might have.  

Alongside our teenage counselling support and therapy, our psychologists are able to offer you emotional support and psycho-education regarding your teenager’s education, social and relationship experiences. 

Get in touch with us to find out how we can best help you support your emotional teenager and create a healthy relationship full of great communication

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