top of page

Communicating with teenagers.

"I don't understand my kid anymore, what's happened to them?".

And so begins the story of parents communicating with their teenagers.

Suddenly the kid who used to love you and want to spend time with you  now tells you they don't like you anymore and "doh, you so don't understand".

Well to be honest we probably don't fully understand, yes we have been there of course but it was different, we were respectful of our parents, we would never do what our kids do. 

Mmmmmmm. Let's be honest about it - maybe this was just me - I was awful, knew everything, rude to my mum, parents were embarrassing and got in the way of my "independence".

It's a hard time for all, the adolescent stage of life, hormones, brain changes and of course the enevitable wanting to "fit"in. So how can we manage the conflict at home and have compromise of some kind.

The phrase "it's not what you say, but the way that you say it", is so true. We, the parent, have our values and beliefs and kids have theirs. The problem comes when they don't quite connect :-).

Here are some tips for dealing with every day problems:

Cleaning the bedroom and doing chores are not a priority for the majority of kids. State your expectation and how you feel without casting the emotion into them. For example; "I feel frustrated coming into your room, seeing it is a mess and having to tidy up after you". Likely responses are "you don't have to" and it's my room".

Both statements are indeed true.

Point out some logical reasoning;

"What you say is true, and if I left the plate of pizza in here it would be rotten by now and remember when you wanted to wear those jeans last week and you couldn't because they weren't washed?"

Ask them to come up with ideas of how they can keep their room from smelling and their washing done. You come up with some ideas as well. Compare the lists and agree a compromise. E.g. Washing to be out by the machine once a week and all dirty dishes to be left in the kitchen. 

Once you have both agreed the commitment is made and you will probably find they keep to their side of the deal. If they don't then remind them of the agreement. 

Sleep patterns are different in adolescents than adults - thisnis a scientific fact :-).

If your kid is staying up late playing on their phone and then getting up late for school and always tired what can you do.

State how you feel; "I am worried about you not getting enough sleep and then being tired for school". You are likely to get back, "I'm not tired at bed time". Again they probably aren't. Reflect back what they say to you, " seems like you are in a cycle whereby when you go to bed you are not tired so you go to sleep late and then get up late making you late for school? ". They are likely to agree to which you can ask them how they think they can change the situation during the week.

Compare this to what we generally do of "your room is a pig sty how could you live like this it's disgusting". Or "get up, I told you to go to bed earlier now look you are late for school."

Emotionally driven conversations often lead to arguments because we generally want what we believe to be the best for our kids and they have their own belief system and motivators.

Take some time out if needs be saying; " I am going to take some time out as I don't want to say something I regret later".

State how you feel in a non emotional way and without blame.

"I feel angry when you speak to me like that as it feels disrespectful".


"When you speak to be like that I feel angry as it feels like you are being rude".

Compare that to,

"You make me so angry". 

Take responsibility for your own feelings without blame.

Listen to their side of the story. Be as patient as you can, without interruption and without showing or giving out more emotion.

Come up with a joint way of solving the problem.

Every Monday I have the same conversation with Meg aged 10. It's spelling test day. I want to know the score as my values and beliefs are about family and making sure I do the best for her. If here is a problem I want to be able to help.

For Meg it is different, she hates the praise or the conversation around spelling - I am not sure why but she does.

Me: "hey Meg how was spelling".

Meg: "fine".

This week I have made a conscious effort to change this. Normally it would be a what did you get, doesn't matter conversation which would probably result in both of us being frustrated.

Me: " I have noticed when I ask you about spelling you don't want to tell me the score".

Meg: " I don't like the fuss".

Me: "I like to know so I can help you if there is a problem".

Meg: " If there was a problem the teacher would tell you".

This is a fair point and one I can't argue against :-).

Me: "So how can we sort this out together so I don't worry and you don't get frustrated?".

Meg: "Don't know as you want to know the scores and I don't want to talk about it".

Me: "How about we make an agreement if you make a mistake on 2 you let me know and if not you say fine".

Meg: "Well if I make a mistake of 3 or more I have to stay in at lunchtime, so what if I say inside if I make 3 or more mistakes?".

Me: " So I will ask how you got on, if you make less than 3 mistakes you will say fine and if you make 3 of more mistakes you will say stayed inside?".

Meg: "yes".

Me: "great, thanks".

She slips her hand in mine as we cross the road and a potential conflict conversation has passed.

If there is a particular area you would like me to cover please let me know.

Please share and like so we can help as many people as possible.



bottom of page