The holidays offer a special opportunity to spend time together as a family; kids are home for winter break and many offices are closed. Before they run off to spend vacation days with friends this weekend, make a point to reconnect with your teen—talking with your teen is one of the greatest gifts you can give.
But what if you’re not sure how to engage when the moment arises? You have your teen one-on-one making cookies or in the car, but the conversation just isn’t flowing… Don’t panic! Teen Speak has your roadmap to real talks with your teen.
Here are few of the basics you’ll learn:
- Ask open-ended questions. These are questions that can’t be answered with a simple “yes”, “no”, or one-word answer. For example, instead of “How was your day?” (cut to the usual answer: “Fine.”) Try: “Tell me about your day?” This opens the door for your teen to share a bit of their daily life – and may even lead to genuine two-way dialogue!
- Use reflections. Even baking the most delicious holiday treats can’t guarantee a conversation with your teen will stay sweet. Reflections can help your teen feel heard and defuse emotions if tensions run high. For instance, your teen shouts at you “I can’t believe you won’t let me go to my friends to spend the holiday. You’re forcing me to miss out on our get together.” Instead of immediately snapping back, try this instead: “Spending time with your friends is very important to you.” Then pause and really listen to their response. You may follow-up with something along the lines of “It’s important to me to spend time as a family this holiday. Let’s think through some ideas that could meet both of our needs.”
- Seize the moment. Every small engagement offers
the chance to find out more about your teen’s latest interests, show them you
care and help you feel a part of each other’s lives. Try:
- Eliciting their help wrapping presents and have them bring the playlist.
- Taking them shopping to pick out a small present for their friend.
- Asking them to pick the movie and snack for a family night in.
These strategies take practice, and there are many more that can be used to strengthen the effectiveness. Give you AND your teen the ultimate gift for the new year: a trusting, honest relationship that lasts a lifetime. Give yourself Teen Speak! Coming soon in audiobook form, Dr. (and mom) Jennifer Salerno will guide you through how your teen thinks, what they might be feeling and experiencing and how you can support them with scientifically proven strategies.