There are many hard things in life and one of them is talking to your pre-teen or adolescent. Parents with pre-teens and teenagers at home will know exactly what I’m talking about. Hormonal changes are real and boy, do they affect the way pre-teens communicate with their parents. Sometimes, the most genuine questions asked in good interest trigger an explosive response from your child simply because of the way the particular question has been asked. Words matter a lot when communicating and in case of communicating with a pre-teen, they carry more value than you know!
Pre-teens struggle with a myriad of emotions and navigating through them is hard, with the dynamic changes the world brings today. A strong relationship with their parents provides them the much needed anchoring and support they need in their lives. The key lies in being around them without being overly assertive. Here are five ways in which you can make your everyday communication with your child better:
- Steer clear of asking them how their day was. This turns them off especially when they’ve had a hard day. Moreover, this question is too predictable for them and they already know what answer to give you, which defeats the purpose of honest communication. Ask open-ended questions and keep the conversation centred around their interests.
- Don’t multitask. They hate it as much as we do when somebody is on their phone or isn’t wholeheartedly invested in the communication.
- Don’t give standard responses: Bullying and competition between peers gets way more vicious as teenage approaches. Pre-teens often hide such incidents from their parents fearing their involvement and retaliation. If your child comes to you with such instances, don’t give them the standard response of ‘don’t pick fights’ or ‘you should ask them to leave you alone.’ Instead, ask your child what they’d like to do and what kind of guidance they want from you and then offer advice and a safety plan to comfort them.
- Sarcasm is best avoided. Hormonal changes are massive in pre-teens and they have a hard time regulating their emotions. Don’t label your child as ‘difficult’ or ‘sensitive’ on the basis of their emotional outbursts. Respect where your child is coming from. Sarcasm and taunts don’t work; they only end up making children more defensive.
- Remind them about consequences: Pre-teens and teenagers are impulsive creatures. They often may not know the reasons behind their actions and prodding them with questions only makes it worse. If they make the wrong decision, gently point out the consequences of that decision and ask them what they would do next time.
If you know any other tips on effectively communicating with pre-teens and teenagers, do share them in the comments with our readers.