Feb 19, 2019

It can be hard to try to give young people any advice as they tend to react strongly when they suspect that they are being lectured to. A lecture – where one person does most of the talking and nearly none of the listening – tends to be one of the modern teen’s pet peeves.

Psychologists believe that today’s teens are more self-aware than previous generations ever were. In many ways, they have high standards for the conversations that they will participate in. If advice that they receive seems canned and not specifically tailored to their needs, they instantly recognize it as a lecture and tune out. 

The best way to get through to a teen and receive a reasonable response, then, is to think about what you say each time you say it, and then talk only when you have something original and heartfelt. Here are ten ideas on what else to put into the conversations and get your teen to listen.  

1. Have a proper, two-sided conversation

It is not enough to make sure that you think fresh and tailor what you say to your kid; you also need to make sure that you are interested in the give-and-take of conversation. Showing that you care for the reply that you get and that you think about it, can make the entire exercise seem worthwhile to your kid.

2. Do your best to not make accusations

At their young age, teens tend to not have as developed a sense of responsibility as older people do. If they find themselves under attack, they can easily cut you out. Rather than feel guilt over it, they are likely to feel resentment that you would do something as unfair as to accuse them of anything. It is best to stay clear of accusations.

3. Explore your teen’s opinions

The modern teen is interested in equal treatment. If you want your kid to be interested in what you have to say and to think about it, you have to return the favor – explore what their thoughts are, think about them and absorb them. Your effort will pay off when you teen realizes that you really think of him as an equal.

4. Rehearse and be brief

Young people tend to have very little patience for serious conversation. Whatever you need to say, rehearse and make sure that you can get it all said in  under two or three minutes. Your conversations will be of higher quality for the thought you put into getting to the essence, and your teen will be all ears.

5. Do not put on airs

If it seems to you that you should be cooler than you are or more “with it,” do not try anything that you can’t pull off. Young people are all about genuineness. If they suspect for even a second that you are trying to be cooler than you really are, they will shut you out.

6. Try to be spontaneous

Making a big deal of your conversation can put off your teen. It is a much better idea to seize a moment when bringing up the subject would seem natural. You do need to be around your teen long enough each day to make sure that you see a moment that fits what you have in mind.

7. Watch your ego

If you really want your kid to listen to you, take every opportunity to demonstrate that you are not driven by your ego. If you ever see an opportunity to show your kid that you accept one of his arguments, readily admit it. You will gain a great deal of legitimacy and trust.

8. Spend time with your teen

Young people only accept criticism from those who seem to have genuine interest in them. If you only ever talk to your teen when you believe that there is a problem, you will not have earned the right to offer criticism. Take a general interest in your kid’s life before you offer criticism or advice.

9. Do not act familiar

At 15 or 16, teens are only starting to explore their independence. They tend to be extremely touchy about it. You will get much further with your teen if you set aside the fact that you are the parent, and talk as if you are nothing more than a friend. Taking a special relationship for granted will only result in being shut out.

10. Do not judge

If you are even the least bit judgmental, your teen will probably call you on it. Being judgmental, offering criticism on the basis of a belief in absolute standards, does not work with young people.

If you suspect you that your teen drinks and you simply hate the idea, for instance, you can’t bring up your personal feelings unless you want to be dismissed as judgmental. You can only talk about the dangers, the legal aspects involved and so on.

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