Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Parents Universal Resource Experts (Sue Scheff) How to talk to your teen

As the parent of a teen, you may long for the days when you could hold your child on your lap and they were eager to talk, Those days may be long gone, but you can still find ways to get your teen to talk and really start to connect with your teen.

To many parents, their teen is a closed book and getting a teen to talk can be like trying to make the earth stop rotating. At times it seems impossible to get them to open up and talk about their lives. But talking to your teen and knowing about their lives is one of the best ways to protect them from danger. Spying and snooping around isn’t the best way to get that information either, it will only upset matters if your teen finds out.

Here are a few tips on how to get a teen to talk:

Start young. Keeping a relationship going with your child is easier than starting one when you haven’t had one before. You may find them trying to pull away once they hit a certain age; just keep at it.

Find common ground. To get your teen to talk, first search for things that you and your teen are both interested in. It’s easier to talk about something that you both have in common. That way, you can ask your child about a band’s new album rather than the same old “how was school?”

Be open to what they say. When you get your teen talking, don’t be surprised if they say some things you don’t like. Just be open to what they’re telling you instead of being judgmental. You can tell them you don’t approve of something without attacking them. If they feel comfortable talking about serious things, they’ll be more likely to come to you if they have a problem.

Spend more together. A recent study showed that many teens rate not having enough time with their parents as one of their top concerns. Many teens feel they can’t talk to their parents because they’re always at work or busy doing something else. We often forget to take time out from our hectic lives to pay enough attention to our kids. Some suggestions for spending extra time with your teen are:

Set up a specific time every week to spend time with your teen
Have dinner at the table with the whole family as often as possible
Work out or engage in a sport with your kids
Drive your teen to school instead of sending them on the bus
While your teen may be reluctant to talk to you at first, keep trying. Likely, you’ll eventually break them down and they’ll look forward to talking with you and spending time together.