Communicating with your Teenager

Preteen african girl talking and sharing with understanding mother

Teenagers are in a significant stage of growth and development. Even understanding how fast their brain is rewiring as they head towards adulthood helps us recognize that there can be a lot of dysregulation. Often their parents and caregivers struggle to know exactly how to communicate with their teenager during this interesting time of relational and emotional upheaval.

In a recent post by Rachel Ehmke on the Child Mind Institute there is a discussion and some tips for communicating with your teenager. Here are some excerpts from this post:

The teenage years have a lot in common with the terrible twos. During both stages our kids are doing exciting new things, but they’re also pushing boundaries (and buttons) and throwing tantrums. The major developmental task facing both age groups is also the same: kids must pull away from parents and begin to assert their own independence. No wonder they sometimes act as if they think they’re the center of the universe.

This makes for complicated parenting, especially because teens are beginning to make decisions about things that that have real consequence, like school and friends and driving, not to speak of substance use and sex. But they aren’t good at regulating their emotions yet, so teens are prone to taking risks and making impulsive decisions.

This means that having a healthy and trusting parent-child relationship during the teenage years is more important than ever. Staying close isn’t easy, though. Teens often aren’t very gracious when they are rejecting what they perceive to be parental interference. While they’re an open book to their friends, who they talk to constantly via text messages and social media, they might become mute when asked by mom how their day went. A request that seemed reasonable to dad may be received as a grievous outrage.

If this sounds familiar, take a deep breath and remind yourself that your child is going through his terrible teens. It is a phase that will pass, and your job as parent is still vitally important, only the role may have changed slightly. Here are some tips for navigating the new terrain:

She then proceeds to discuss nine very helpful tips in how to communicate with your teenager.  It could be a very helpful set of tools to put into your communication tool belt as you relate to the teenager in your life. 

Gerry Vassar


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