Many days I feel like I am talking to a brick wall when communicating with my teen. And those are the good days when I actually get the chance to talk with her. How do I break down this barrier?
When children reach their teen years, they start doing things that they never have done before. They pull away from their parents and get upset when their parents try to talk with them. They are no longer the sweet little children who hung on their parents’ every word. The good news is that this is normal. The only thing you can do is to keep trying. Persistence is key.
Talking with your children is very important. It is important to stay current on what they are doing and with whom they are doing it. You must be creative and find ways to stay involved, even if that means making a required designated family time each day. It can be an evening meal, a Wednesday game night, Sunday brunch or a Thursday movie night. Whatever works for you, make it mandatory for all family members. No excuses.
During these family nights, conversation will flow. Casually ask questions about your children’s day or what is going on in their lives. One child may be quieter than others. If this is the case, one-on-one activities may be necessary to get communication flowing. Make these events enjoyable, not pressured.
If you suspect that your child is hiding something from you, monitor his or her interactions with their peers. As a parent, you have every right to investigate. You are not invading their privacy. You are doing your job, which is to ensure their safety. Monitor texting on cell phones and their Facebook pages. Have access to their passwords. If they refuse, take the privilege away. Cell phones, e-mail and Facebook are not rights. If they don’t have anything to hide, they should not refuse to show you.
How can I get my teenager to listen to me? How can I make him clean his room, pick up after himself and help out around the house?
Those are great questions! Unfortunately, we don’t have a simple answer, and there isn't just one thing we can tell you to do that will make your child listen. Without much information about your son or your situation, we cannot provide a lot of specifics. But we can give you some of our basic parenting strategies to try.
Use positive and negative consequences to change behaviors. Positive consequences (time with friends, for example) increase the chances of a behavior happening. Negative consequences (such as the loss of privileges) decrease the chances of a behavior happening.
When using consequences to change a behavior, keep these five things in mind. A consequence should be:
1. Important to the child
3. Appropriate in size
4. Relate to your child's behavior
5. Appropriate for your child's level of development
Use consequences to teach your child, not to punish him. When you issue a consequence, remind your son of the appropriate behavior that he is supposed to have. Even though you may have told him three times yesterday, remind him again today because he still does not have the appropriate behavior.
If you are already issuing consequences for your son's behavior and are not seeing changes, you might need to reevaluate the consequences. Consequences will change as your child changes. Sometimes as parents we have to be creative in order to keep our consequences effective.