Being able to effectively communicate with your teenager is one of the many challenges of being a parent. Many parents wonder why their teen consistently gives one-worded answers to their questions, or why it seems as though their teen has an easy time communicating openly to everyone besides them. Any of this sounding familiar? While every teen is different and struggles to communicate with their parents for different reasons, I can offer some tips to try out! Below, I apply Jon Kabat-Zinn’s (founder of mindfulness-based stress reduction) attitudinal foundations of mindfulness practice to help you effectively communicate with your teen:
One of the most common concerns I see among teenage clients is a fear of being judged; and when teens feel judged, they shut down. When your teen is talking to you, try to be mindful of how you are practicing non-judgment. If you notice you are being judgmental, take a deep breath, and allow yourself to return to the conversation when you are ready to simply hear what your child has to say without judgment.
It is a fact of life that teenagers and their parents struggle to communicate effectively. Be patient with your teen, and yourself!
When your teen is struggling with something you have experienced, it can be easy to make assumptions that their situations is the same as yours. That said, many parents fall into the trap of giving advice, or telling their teen what to do, based off their own experiences. Instead, try listening to your teen with new ears, and let their experiences be their own.
Trust your instincts. Trust your instincts when something is telling you that your teen is struggling, and they need your immediate attention. Trust your instincts when something is telling you that your teen is just in a mood, and give them some space.
Stop trying so hard. The more you try to force communication on your teen, the less likely they will want to communicate with you. If you can begin applying these mindfulness practices when communicating with your teen, the more likely your teen will want to start effectively communicating with you.
When communicating with your teen, make sure they know you accept them. Acceptance does not have to mean you are okay with everything they are communicating to you. Instead, acceptance means you will unconditionally love your teen no matter what.
Sometimes, parents struggle with holding on to who their child was before they became a teen. Practice letting go of who your teen once was, and embrace who they are now; it will make your communication with them much more effective when they know you acknowledge and respect that they are growing up.
When you practice these attitudinal foundations of mindfulness, your communication patterns with your teen begins to change. When these patterns change, your communication becomes much more effective.