It can be tricky to know how to talk to teens. Adolescence can be a tough period. On the best of days, parenting teens is not always easy. So, knowing how to communicate effectively and with compassion can make a significant impact on our relationships. What we know is that positive communication is key to holding the connection with kids and ensuring they feel supported and heard. What’s more, this isn’t just opinion, it’s fact. The science demonstrates that diminutive models of communication don’t work. Studies show this to be true. More antiquated modes of communication, such as punitive or negative feedback loops can cause not only psychological damage but also potential relational trauma and increase more destructive behavioral patterns.
Once we are conscious of the need for positive communication, we can adopt this lens through practice. It’s in the intention and effort that we learn how to talk to teens thoughtfully and productively. Each day, we have an opportunity to engage in activities that support positivity and ease, both individually in our own mindsets and behaviors, as well as collectively with those we love.
Here are some tips to foster positivity and practice the capacity to talk to teens effectively.
- Start within. It’s always ideal to get that oxygen mask securely fastened before embarking. We need to practice what we wish to emulate so be sure you’re taking care of yourself. Get good sleep, exercise, hydrate, eat well, share your emotional life with someone you trust. Many of us adults have our own traumas and sensitivities we might be navigating so go easy on yourself and don’t skip the self-care. Ever. It may mean getting up at dawn to go surfing before anyone else is up. Maybe it’s Pilates or transcendental meditation. Whatever fills the well–do it.
- Visualize the best of all possible worlds. This may sound ridiculously simple, and it is. And it works. When we imagine positive outcomes, and how they might feel, sound, smell, we focus our energy where we want it to go, rather than where we don’t. Simple works, sometimes far better than overthinking, analyzing the past, or getting stuck in victim cycles of perception. These can happen to the best of us. Many of us have been hurt before, some through real tragedy. Forgive what’s been and really think about the world you want to create with those you love.
- Show up with kindness and calm. The tone of what we say affects what we say. Kids can read us like books, better than we can imagine. Be confident, be yourself, share openly. When we approach family communication with kindness, modeling the behavior we wish to see, we encourage others to do the same. We can’t fake kindness. There may be moments that feel very hard – moments when communication is strained. Tensions are high. But we have to come back to this. Leave the room or go outside if you need to center yourself. Do not communicate from a place of reactivity, fear, or a desire to control the outcome. It will not work. One of the simplest ways to apply this to our daily lives is to check the state of our mind – be aware of the way we’re thinking. Are we anxious and reactive? Are we fearful with a spinning mind? Notice the condition of the thoughts and do what you need to do to start from a calm, centered mind. This is vital for communication.
Calm IS My Superpower
There’s a meme that says “Calm is my superpower.” This needs to be us when we’re living with adolescents. Teens need us — to model healthy behavior and relationships, to provide guidance when needed, and to support and love them. This means we need to do our utmost to apply what we teach to our own lives.
At SoCal Adolescent Wellness, we provide professional expertise and education to support and teach families the skills of emotional awareness, self-regulation, behavioral modification practices, and fundamental mental health tools. We connect the symptoms and experiences with evidenced-based therapeutic interventions as we develop unique treatment plans for teens and families. We guide clients to help them adjust and adapt to anything that life brings. We are here to help.