Search

4 Strategies to Communicate More Effectively With Your Teen


Communication is the Foundation of Family Relationships

The Joys of Being a Teen Today

The teens years can be trying for both teens and their parents. Our children are now growing into larger children and mini-adults. Our teens experience a lot of changes during their teen years:

  • Attending larger schools

  • Navigating more complex social systems

  • Puberty and the rush and influx of hormones running around in the brain and body

  • Dating and having boyfriends/girlfriends

  • Breaking up with boyfriends/girlfriends

  • Added responsibility to track classes and homework

  • Pressures to achieve at the highest academic level

  • Pressure to achieve at the highest athletic level

  • Pressure to participate in extra curricular activities

  • Working hard to get into the best colleges and starting to think about what they want to be when they grow up

With all these changes the parents are with them every moment of this roller coaster ride. Parents play the role of referee, counselor, taxi driver, tour guide and other roles seeking to help their teens not only survive this stage of life, but emerge stronger and better for it.


The Little Things: Who Am I & What is the Meaning of Life


Seeking Answers to Life's Big Questions

Not that the above isn't a lot to take on. They have all these challenges and more while also trying to figure out who they are as an individual. As they are maturing and developing, their brain reaches a stage where independent and analytical thought can be accessed. Their brain is developing more connections during their teen years than any other time of their life. We combine rapid growth in cognitive ability with a highly active endocrine system flooding the body with hormones and it results in some analytical & opinionated individuals. They start seeking answers to some pretty heavy questions such as:

  • Who am I?

  • Who do I want to be?

  • What do I want to be?

  • What are my own values?

  • What is my spiritual or religious belief?

While we remember back to our teen years we can empathize with some of the challenges our teens face today. Our teens may not believe it but it doesn't make it any less true. One thing that is a constant over time no matter when you were a teen growing up, is the challenge in communication.


Communication as a Foundational Element of Healthy Relationships


I have been providing family therapy since 2003. I have worked with families from all walks of life and who have experience a wide variety of family struggles. The one thing that all these families had in common? Difficulty in communication with other family members.

By the time families come to family therapy the struggles have been occurring for some time. One of the first elements that breaks down in relationships that struggle is communication. Below are strategies for communicating more effectively with your teen. Though these strategies are effective with your teen, they are effective in a wide variety of other relationships.


Listening is More Than Hearing, It's Understanding


Have you had a conversation with someone and you can tell that they are just chomping at the bit to respond? You can see it in their eyes and their body language that they are formulating in their minds their response to what you say. These types of situations are common in business meetings where everyone has their own professional stake to claim. How did that make you feel? Did you feel your defenses rise? When they started speaking did you do the same thing and while they were speaking you were formulating your response?

In these types of situations the person is hearing what you are saying but they really aren't listening. Listening involves placing yourself in the other persons shoes. You are trying to not only understand the verbal content but the emotional content. Have you had a conversation with someone who has listened to understand you? How did that make you feel? Did you feel your defenses rise? When they started speaking did you do the same thing and while they were speaking you also listened to understand?


Utilize Empathy and Validation

To empathize is placing ourselves in another persons shoes. We try to imagine in our minds and heart how the other person must have felt. When we can empathize and we understand how the other person felt, we can provide validation.

Validation does not mean agreeing with the other person. It simply shows the other person that you are listening to understand and get what they are saying. When we validate with empathy, we not only understand what they are saying but what they are feeling.

Validation often comes in the form of "you believe.... ", "you feel" . . . , "you are . . ." types of statements.


For example:

Your son has now come home way past curfew for the third time. You sit down to talk with him and explain that he is grounded and his curfew has been set to an earlier time. He begins to become defensive and says, "That's unfair! I got a flat tire each time and that made me late! I can't help that you buy crappy tires!" Validating would sound like, "you're angry because you don't feel that grounding you and shortening your curfew is fair. You also can't help that we buy crappy tires and would have been home on time had it not been for the tires we bought."

You can make a empathetic guess at the emotion he may be feeling. You also simply restate what he has told you. You don't need to end it in a question as if you are right, you'll hear something like, "yeah, that's right" or if you are wrong, "no, you just don't get it". If you "don't get it", you can ask for clarification and try again.

Communicating this way helps lower the defenses. When the other person, your teen in this case, sees that you are truly listening to understand with empathy, over time, communication will improve. But his curfew is still shortened and he is still grounded!


Life's just not fair. . . .


Now Your Turn

As you practice listening to understand and utilizing empathy and validation, there will be a lessening of defenses. This will open up a window where once the other person can state that you get what they are saying and feeling 100 %, now it's your turn.

Share with your teen your concerns and the "why" behind the consequences. They may not like it, they may not agree with it, and they may feel it's completely unfair. Yet, they need to understand what they "why" is. That you are concerned for their safety being out that late. You are worried because they didn't check in. You've given them two other opportunities to follow the curfew and he didn't follow our rules.

In family therapy, we practice these skills so that when not only the parent is working to communicate in this way but the teen and the whole family.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Sounds simple right? I have a challenge for you. The next time you're in a conversation practice these elements of healthy communication: Listen to Understand and Utilize Empathy and Validation. If this is new for you I believe you will find it more challenging than it seems. Try to stay true to this course through out the conversation and see if you get a different result. I think you will. If not, come see me and I'll help.


Let the Adventure Begin!

Let us Help Your Teen and Your Family Strengthen Your Family Relationships


Communication is the foundational element element of healthy relationships. Whether its with those we work with or, and more importantly, those we live with. At Katy Teen & Family Counseling, we have been helping families strengthen their relationships through family therapy since 2003.

Let us help your teen and your family strengthen your family bonds and connections. We are conveniently located just off of I-10 and 99. Easily accessible for those living in Katy and Houston. Our teen counselors and family therapy specialists are ready to help you. To start your teen counseling and family therapy journey, follow these simple steps:

1. Contact Katy Teen & Family Counseling

2. Meet with one of our caring therapists

3. Start your teen counseling journey and start healing. Those problems that have affected you so strongly can be a thing of the past. Picture what life will look like for you free of these struggles.​

Our mission At Katy Teen & Family Counseling is to restore hope, happiness, and connected family relationships. We look forward to starting this journey or restoration with you!


Teen Therapy & Family Counseling Services Katy Teen & Family Counseling Provides for Those in the Katy and Houston Area


At Katy Teen & Family Counseling, we provide the following additional services in Katy, Houston, and the surrounding areas:


Neurofeedback Therapy for Teens (and adults)

  • Teen ADHD Treatment​

  • Teen Anxiety Therapy

  • Teen Depression Therapy

  • Teen Peak Performance (enhancing mental clarity and energy output for higher performance)

  • And More . . .

Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing (EMDR Therapy) for Teens

  • Teen Trauma Therapy​

  • Teen PTSD Treatment

  • Therapy for Teen Anxiety

  • Teen Panic Attacks Treatment

  • Teen Depression Treatment

  • Teen Sports Injury Related Anxiety

  • And more . . .

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Teens

  • Teen Depression Counseling

  • Therapy for Teen Anxiety

  • Teen Trauma Therapy

  • Teen PTSD Treatment

  • Adoption and Attachment

  • And more . . .

Counseling for Gifted Students

  • Neurofeedback Therapy for Increased Mental and Intellectual Peak Performance​

  • Teen Perfectionism

  • Teen Test Anxiety Treatment

  • Teen Performance Anxiety Counseling

  • Teen Self-Esteem

  • Teen Self-Worth

  • Teen Depression Treatment

  • Teen Anxiety Therapy

  • Teen ADHD

  • And More . . .

Therapy for Talented Teen Athletes

  • Neurofeedback Therapy for Optimal Brain Performance​ for Improved Athleticism & Peak Performance

  • EMDR Treatment for Teen Anxiety Related to Injury

  • Teen Perfectionism

  • Teen Depression Counseling

  • Therapy for Teen Anxiety

  • Teen ADHD

  • And More . . . ​


Katy Teen & Family Counseling

info@katyteenandfamilycounseling

346-202-4662

7 views

633 East Fernhurst, Ste. 302

Katy, Texas 77450

(Inside Parkway Ridge Office Condominiums)
 

  • Facebook
  • Instagram

©2020 by Katy Teen & Family Counseling. Proudly created with Wix.com