Let’s discuss how to talk to teens so they actually feel heard and loved.
Imagine for a moment if parenting could become easier, less stressful and more impactful?
Recently I read an amazing article by Dr. Shauna Tominey, a parenting education specialist from Oregon State University.
Previously she was a teacher of education at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and she wrote a book called: “Creating Compassionate Kids: Essential Conversations to Have with Young Children”
She shared in her article for the University of California, Berkeley, “Five Ways to Talk with Your Kids So They Feel Loved.”
This is so applicable to our Tweens and Teens, who we may feel we’re in constant struggles with at times, but if we’d just reflect back for a moment to these five tips, life may be just a bit easier.
5 Ways How To Talk To Teens
You are loved for who you are and who you will become.
Our kids are going to change as they grow up. Interests change. Behaviors change. Strengths shift.
Our kids need to know that they are loved for who they are and who they will become.
As Dr. Tominey writes, “Children who have secure attachments tend to have higher self-esteem and better self-control, stronger critical thinking skills, and better academic performance than children who don’t.”
Your feelings help your parents and caregivers know what you need.
It’s easy to see how this applies with toddlers and how we need to adjust our expectations based on how they’re feeling. For example, an overly tired toddler is incapable of regulating behavior the way that he could if he was rested.
But the same applies for teens and tweens as well. If you know that your teen or tween is feeling anxious about a test or is exhausted from staying up late studying and, as a result, is short tempered… it may be necessary to adjust expectations. I’m not suggesting that you have to accept rudeness from a teenager, but maybe just keep the feelings your child is feeling in the forefront of your mind when you react.
“There are different ways to express your feelings.”
This is kind of a continuation of the second point.
Again, with a toddler, it’s obvious how this applies. You need to teach your child that things like hitting, biting, and tantrums aren’t appropriate ways to express anger, as an example, and give them other ways to express that emotion.
With a teen, though, while you may talk about healthy ways (or unhealthy ways) to express emotion, you may also do a fair amount of role modeling. You can also discuss how it’s appropriate for adults to express emotion as well (your teens may even have input into how you manage your emotions).
“Everyone is a learner and making mistakes is part of learning.”
As Dr. Tominey explains, kids need to understand and be reminded (regardless of how old they are), that “learning something new takes time, problem solving, perseverance, and patience.”
With a younger child, the conversation may include you reminding them how that thing they now love doing (like drawing or riding a bike) didn’t come easily until they had had practice. They didn’t master those skills right away.
With teens, it can help to talk about the mistakes you’ve made and how you overcame them. You can also talk about the effort they’ve put in and how far they’ve come.
“Your parents and caregivers are trying to be the best parents they can be.”
Imagine your teen or tween coming to you and apologizing for poor behavior.
It can happen… IF we are willing to role model that behavior.
Let your kids know that you’re trying your best, but that you make mistakes just like everyone else. This means apologizing if you lash out in anger or if you make a poor choice that impacts them.
As Dr. Tominey writes, “If you talk with your children about what you are working on, why it is hard, and what you are doing to improve, you can give your children ideas for strategies that they can use themselves.”
This reminded me of a recent podcast episode from Dr. Robyn Silverman (such a great podcast) where she interviewed author and parenting coach Vicki Hoefle who wrote the bestseller “Duct Tape Parenting“.
During this interview Vicki shared with Dr. Robyn, if you want your children to admit when they make mistakes, we need to admit when we make mistakes. Imagine if you apologize to your teenager one morning for a comment you said yesterday to them and that you didn’t express your feelings the way you had hoped. Imagine how they would react? That’s called modeling and when we model the behavior we’d like from our children, we’re more likely to see that happen.
Final Thoughts on 5 Ways How To Talk To Teens
As a whole, I think we would all agree that an involved parent who is doing the best he or she can is a great parent. None of us are perfect. We all make mistakes. We all parent differently.
There are, however, some things you can do to make your children feel loved and cherished, and one of those things is engage in meaningful conversation regularly. 5 examples of conversations you should have with your kids, regardless of age, are:
- You are loved for who you are and who you will become
- Your feelings help your parents and caregivers know what you need
- There are different ways to express your feelings
- Everyone is a learner and making mistakes is part of learning
- Your parents and caregivers are trying to be the best parents they can be
And mom and dad, as your kids make mistakes, how do you encourage them to learn from them and continue moving forward versus feeling bad that they actually made the mistakes?
Leave us a comment below or jump into the Facebook Group and join the conversation there. We also have a printable we’ll be sharing in our Facebook community with these 5 conversations to have with your kids.