How to Talk with teens

Talking with teens (13 to 19 Years)

Driving, working a job, taking care of younger siblings – children at this stage are becoming more independent and more responsible. For many people, the teenage years are the tumultuous transition from childhood to adulthood. It’s more important than ever to express expectations and boundaries with teens so that they are able to make informed and safe decisions – all on their own.

Setting expectations

Enforce expectations such as curfews, who is allowed in your home and when. Have teens be a part of the conversation when those decisions get made. The rules will seem less “unfair” if teens feel a part of the rule-defining process. Also, they become inherently aware of the expectations they have set for themselves.

Continue to talk with teens about their bodies and boundaries. Let them know that no one – including a parent, a teacher, an athletic coach, a romantic partner – should ever touch them in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable. Assure teens that they can always talk to you if they have a concern. You always have time to talk.

Develop open communication

Give teens as many opportunities as possible to speak up about something that is bothering them. Find time each and every day to ask about school, friends, feelings and concerns. Be an engaged and active listener. Kids, even very young kids, can tell whether or not you’re really listening.

  • Tips for Active Listening – Pay attention to your body language and maintain eye contact throughout the conversation. Turn off external distractions, like the TV or your phone, and show that you’re following along with a murmur and a nod. Always wait until the speaker has finished talking before you respond or ask more questions.

Navigating relationships

Teenagers may enter into serious, romantic relationships which may lead to some intense feelings and emotions. Encourage teens to express these feelings in healthy and productive ways to you and to their partner.

Just as relationship modeling is important for babies and toddlers, it remains equally as important for teens. Regardless of your personal relationship status, it’s important that you use your own experience as an example and model on how to navigate relationships in safe and healthy ways. They may not admit it, but teenagers still look up to adults very much.


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