Think from a Different Perspective!
You may feel bad when your teen stops confiding in you. But you need to take it with a pinch of salt, and think of it as a normal part of growing up into an independent adult.
You start talking to your teen, and unknowingly the conversation drifts and ends in a fight, or you bombard him with questions that he just answers in one word. Sounds familiar? It will, if you have a teen in your house who is the master of one-word answers, and has suddenly become moody.
As toddlers, and even as pre-teens, they would talk freely and share every little incident in their lives. You would feel nothing but blessed. Slowly, as they crawl into the teen years, the ‘open book’ that they once were becomes closed with a padlock.
You just cannot get them to open up and talk to you. When you want to start a conversation, they get annoyed. They don’t want to talk to you, and simply become allergic to you. After coming back from school, they simply rush into their room, only to come out for dinner, and again rush through dinner, only to go back to their computers or cell phones.
Don’t feel low! Buzzle is here to help you out with a few suggestions, when dealing with a clammed-up teen.
They are Growing Up, Accept it!
➥ No matter how difficult it may be for you to digest, but you have to come to terms with the fact that your lil’ one is growing up fast. While you may think that he is still your ‘baby’, your teen may think that he is already an adult. It is the most difficult phase of life, both, for the parents as well as the teen. None of the players in the game are ready to change their point of view, and this generates friction.
➥ As an adult, you will have to first accept them as friends/mature individuals who are trying to be independent. I don’t see any reason to be worried about it, because at some point of their life, they will have to move out and live life independently, and that’s what they are getting prepared for.
➥ One more thing that you need to acknowledge is that, even they have their good and bad days. So, if your teen seems aloof, there is no need for you to rush to help him out. Just let him figure out the solution to his problems on his own. Treat him like an adult. Trust me, it will work!
They Have Different Likes and Dislikes
➥ Your teen has definitely inherited your DNA, but he is certainly not a clone. If your choice of music is soft and soothing, and your kid’s choice is loud and disturbing, there is no need to freak out. Nor is there a need to insult or belittle him, because what seems to be disturbing music to you, can be relaxing for him. Accept the differences and respect them as you would do if he was a friend.
➥ If you, as an adult, are not able to change yourself to like or at least accept a different perspective towards things, then how do you expect your teen to change his way of looking at things. Being the experienced player of the game, you need to have that ability to bend and adjust, because your teen won’t! Keep this in your mind. Not only acknowledging the difference in choice, you will also have to start liking what they like… I’ve elaborated on this point in the next section.
➥ A little word of caution! Even if you give your teen the leeway to live his life the way he chooses to, the permissive behavior should only be for things that are correct and harmless for him. If his behavior is becoming unacceptable, then you may have to put your foot down.
Like What They Like!
➥ Teens usually like to remain in-sync with the things happening around them. Be it movies, music, fashion, video games or sports, they know it all. Parents usually do not have the time to catch up with the latest in social media, and this is the main reason why teens show aversion to talking with their parents. They think that their parents are dimwits, when it comes to understanding their lifestyle.
➥ For bridging this gap, you have to start catching up with the latest trends. Search on the net, ask your friends, or grab the latest fashion magazine. Do anything it takes to be with the wave, even if it eats away into your tight schedule. I’m asking you to do this rigorously, because it is only then that your teen would acknowledge your advances to strike a conversation. Just ask him, “Are any of your friends interested in watching Man of Steel over the weekend?”, and he would be floored.
Talk on All Topics
➥ No subject should be taboo. Talking openly on any topic that your child may come up with, will convey to him that he can ask any question he needs an answer for. It will also build a foundation of trust, and it would become easier for him to come up with a variety of genuine concerns.
➥ This is an important point to remember! Talking to your teen on whichever topic he brings up is the first step to treating him as an adult. In case you get stuck in a situation, where your kid has asked you a rather awkward question, face it, and answer it simply and honestly. Never shun the question.
➥ By talking freely to your child, you will be able to create a feeling in him, that he can count on you whenever he needs you. You will make him realize that you are as good as his peers, and therefore, he will not look elsewhere for answers when he is emotionally needy. It is really crucial in building closeness and getting your teen to open up and talk to you.
Listen, Understand, and Then Speak
➥ Communicating with your teen is an art that needs to be learned the hard way. When your teen starts venting out his feelings, let him do that completely. If you interrupt, chances are that either he won’t listen, or your interruption would put him off, and he may withdraw from the conversation. Therefore, let him speak out and finish.
➥ Secondly, you need to respond in a non-judgmental way. No blame-game or reiteration of those sentences, that start with, “See, I had told you …”, and end with, “… you never listen”. Even if his revelation has hit you in the face, don’t show it. Don’t lose your composure, because if you do, it would just frighten him, and the conversation will stop.
➥ Start analyzing the situation from a third person’s perspective. See if you can come up with a workable solution. Don’t just jump in with random solutions and advice. The usual parenting rant may do more harm than good, and may make your teen feel incompetent. Let him brainstorm solutions. You can help, but let him think for himself and take good decisions.
Try, But Not Too Hard!
➥ Sometimes, you may just have to accept the times when your teen’s bedroom door is shut, and he simply won’t talk. It’s just a passing phase, and would eventually pass. But till that time, you have to be patient and wait. You may feel the need to knock on the door and ask if anything is bothering him, but wait! Don’t give in to the temptation.
➥ Constant nagging when your kid is upset or brooding over a problem, may add to his anger, and he may just blow up. It may also make your teen resist talking even more. That’s the last thing you would want to happen… right?
➥ If you just leave him on his own, he will sooner or later realize, and may come out to talk to you. Just make sure you are available when he feels the need to talk to you. When he approaches you and starts talking, keep in mind the points you read in the previous section.
➥ Apart from that, you should respond by asking him more open-ended questions. By open-ended questions, I mean the ones that don’t end with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’, and require a more detailed answer. Show interest, but don’t sound inquisitive. Avoid questions that start with ‘why’. Inquisitive questions may send him into a defensive mode.
➥ If your child has come up with a problem, and you remember facing a similar kind of problem when you were a teen, share that instance with him. It not only reminds him that his parents were also once teenagers (with similar problems!), but also gives him an insight into how you overcame the problem.
You may be thinking that I’ve mentioned way too many dos and don’ts, and all this, to just make your teenager open up and talk to you. Yes, it’s you who will have to be determinant, if you want to be like a friend to your teenage son or daughter. There’s no doubt that you will also have to be a parent when the situation demands. But still, dispensing ‘affable parental advice’ is much better than those strict lectures. You will have to learn to strike a balance between the two. Get my drift… being a friendly parent is what is required.