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Improve Communication and Stop Arguing with Your Child

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Maintaining effective communication with your teenager can be a challenge to say the least! Teens are often prepared to disagree and argue with their parents on almost every topic. As they are gaining more independence, this is part of their normal developmental process. That being said, being on the receiving end of this constant can create a lot of stress and anxiety for parents. Generally, parents want to stay connected to their teens but find that communicating with them can be quite a challenge. Below are some tips to assist parents who may be struggling with communicating effectively with their teens.

Model for your teens what you expect from them. If you don't want them to yell at you, you cannot yell at them. They will not respond to the old saying, "do as I say, not as I do". They will resent the double standard and will likely yell even more.

Use "Door Openers" not "Door Slammers". Door Openers are phrases and words which are open ended and allow your teenager to share her thoughts and feelings on a subject. For example: "Do you want to talk about it?", "What do you think about this?", "I think you may be able to help us out with this, what are your ideas?" These phrases let your teens know you value what they think and do not send them the message that you are trying to control them.

Door Slammers are phrases and words that shut down conversations and make teenagers feel powerless or unimportant. For example: "That is none of your business", "I don't care what your friends are able to do", "Don't come crying to me when you mess this up", "We are not going to talk about this again". These phrases and words generally come out during times of conflict but generally create more frustration for teens who are already feeling confused and powerless in their lives.

Don't walk away from your teenager without communicating. If she did something that has really upset you, but you cannot have a productive conversation in the moment, let her know that you are upset and would like to speak with her later.  Don't just walk away and leave her uncertain about what is going on.

Model active listening skills. Using active listening will increase the chances that they will use it with you. By actively listening, you are letting your teenager know that you are interested in what he has to say. In order to do this, you need to completely focus on your teenager. Listen to what he is saying and don't be contemplating your response or thinking about dinner plans. By modeling this skill, your kids will feel important and may also learn how to use active listening themselves.

Have positive communication and conversations with your teenager. Many teens withdraw and decrease their overall communication with their parents during the teenage years. Though this  is normal,  it can result in a decrease of positive conversations and interactions. If positive conversations don't take place, then parents are only talking with their teenager when things are difficult. Take advantage of opportunities for these constructive conversations  when driving in the car or during an event that your teen enjoys.

Avoid talking too much or lecturing too much. Your teenager will tune you talk for too long or begin the lecture. Say what you need to say clearly, listen to their response and do not keep repeating yourself.

In time, you can increase the overall positive communication you have with your teenager. Changing the way you behave and interact can significantly impact the way your teenager interacts with you!