Eliciting information from a pre teen or a teen-ager can be a near impossible task. The parent is eager to know all about his teen’s experience and the teen doesn’t want to share much information for various reasons. This dynamic is a symptom of the communication between the parent and the teen. As a parent your goal is to have open, trustful and truthful communication with your teen.
As mentioned in yesterday’s post the first step is to create a routine and to set the tone for the conversation.
1) Make it special and intimate: Your non-verbal message to your teen lets him know that he has your undivided attention for this special time when you reconnect after being separated for the day. I recommend having this conversation face to face, using eye contact and without multi-tasking.
2) Declare the change and set some rules: As opposed to starting this routine in early childhood, with teenagers you need to facilitate the change. One way to do it is to share with your teen why it is so important for you to know what is going on with him or her and to set some ground rules so he will feel safe in sharing information with you.
Some of the ground rules can be:
- Everything you tell me about your friends is sacred and will be kept to myself.
- Whatever you tell me you will never change the fact that I love you and will always be on your side.
- I respect your privacy and do not want to intrude on it. I just want to know a little bit of what has been going on so we can create and maintain an open channel of conversation, so I can guide you when needed, and so on…
3) Listen and accept your teen as he is. This is one of the main reasons teens do not share their experiences with their parents. They want to be loved and not judged. They are afraid that their parents will not love them anymore if they tell them some of the things they have been involved in.
It is very important to assure the teen that you are not judging him and that you are there for him no matter what!!!
4) When the teen speaks, repeat some of the key words he is using and match them with a similar tone. This technique gives the teen an opportunity to to hear what he has said and it will also reinforce his feeling of truly being heard.
5) Be consistent. Don’t give up and use the following steps over and over again so your teen can appreciate how serious you are in wanting to be part of his life.