How do I talk to my teenager?


Communicating with a teenager can be like banging your head against a brick wall. The parent/teen rivalry has not changed from when I was a teen, but accepting that being a teenager today is different from years ago and so too is the way we communicate. Communicating with your teenager doesn’t mean you have to go out and learn all the new slang (although sometimes that does help a little), it is understanding where they are coming from so the communication between parent and child stays alive.

When you think your teenager won’t listen to you, or you have tried everything to make your teen listen, and things are still not working, maybe it’s time to take advice from the teen’s themselves. Child psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg has often talked about teens wanting to be treated with respect, wanting to be treated like adults and often feel that they are not being listened to. This of course, must go both ways for a successful connection.

If you have ever sat down and wondered ‘Why my teenager won’t talk to me?’ or ‘My teen just never listens’, the here are some tips to open up the communication between a parent and their teenager.

  1. Don’t Lecture. No one likes to be lectured to, especially teenagers. Try having an open conversation where each party has a chance to say exactly what they are feeling. Teens can often be more emotional, by respecting and understanding this, they are more likely to open up and share. Lecturing is counter productive and often is a reason teenagers will shut down.
  2. Learn to negotiate. Most teenagers will respond negatively if threatened with ‘It’s my way or nothing’. Both parties have to give a little. Explain to your teenager that by negotiating, you are giving them more freedom, treating them more like an adult, but this must be respected. Abuse of trust is not negotiable.
  3. Become an excellent listener. We all know how to talk but few people can claim to excellent listeners, especially when it comes to really listening to children. With teenagers, listening is more important than talking. Find an opportunity where both of you can’t walk away from, like the car, ask an open ended question and just listen. It is amazing what they say and how much you can learn about their life.
  4. Short and sweet is the key. Parents can over talk sometimes, giving more information than is necessary. If your teen asks a question, answer it as simply  as possible, then move on. Teenagers are more likely to confide in you if they know they will get a simple, short answer and not be confronted with too much information.
  5. Praise, praise, praise. A kind word can go along way. If your teen has done something that is worth praising, say it, they want to hear these things, especially from parents. In a busy world, we take so much for granted, but stopping every now and then to say a kind word to the person you love, will go further and be remembered.

Do you have any great communicating tips for parents with teens?

cheers natalie


Picture by Tim Simpson



  1. I agree totally with all of these…communicating is definitely the key to having a successful relationship with a teenager.

    • Thanks Mandy. Some days I know my communication with my teenagers is a little rocky (probably because one of use is too tired) but overall, we have great communication. It does take a lot of work and patience though.

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