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May 20, 2016 // WorkLife Wisdom: Talking With Your Teenager

If you’re a parent of a teen, you may have noticed that you and your child often talk at and past each other more than you truly listen to each other. Despite the befuddling turbulence of teen years, your persistent efforts to keep lines of communication open will greatly benefit your teen’s well-being — even if they never admit that you’re a positive influence. Here are some communication tips:

  • Be an interested, active listener. Stop what you’re doing (e.g., put down the cellphone) and ask your teen about his or her day. With undivided attention, listen carefully to the answers. This shows that you genuinely care about what happens to your child. How are certain school classes going? Does she need help with solving problems or issues in a particular class? What’s new with his/her friends? Do they have plans for the weekend?
  • Avoid monopolizing the conversation. Most parents talk at their children far more than is helpful. Try to spend at least twice as much time listening as talking. Avoid interrupting when your teenager is speaking.
  • Keep calm and collected. When teens share something from their lives that you find unsettling, resist the urge to jump in with immediate judgments, criticism or overt alarm. Instead, stay calm, nod and thank your teen for sharing. Remaining calm is important if you want your teen to keep coming back to you. You don’t want to miss potentially important information that may later have you asking yourself, “How did I miss that?”
  • Skip the dreaded parental lecture. Try to have open, responsive conversations with your teen instead of always imparting your deep wisdom. While you certainly need to impose discipline at times, remember that your teen doesn’t want every conversation to be a teachable moment.
  • Mind your mood. While honest sharing is valuable, try not to unload anger or depression on your teen. Put your teen’s needs and challenges first; deal with your own issues separately.
  • Grab those informal chat opportunities. A spontaneous talk on the way to music practice or while washing dishes can be rewarding. It’s important to be around enough to take advantage of communication opportunities that often arise unexpectedly. Your teenager may feel more comfortable sharing when the spotlight isn’t on him or her.
  • Always offer affection. Even when your teen seems to be pulling away and seeking more independence, remember to say “I love you” every day and provide hugs as often as possible. Your unconditional love will help them successfully navigate countless challenges in life.

Accessible 24/7, your FAA WorkLife Solutions Program offers many resources and services to help you and your family. Options available through the program include concierge services to help with everyday events needing your time and attention, child and elder care options, legal and financial services, in-person counseling, and much more. Call your program at 1-800-234-1327, TTY Users: 1-800-456-4006, or log on to www.MagellanHealth.com/Member to begin accessing these services today.

Sources: HealthyChildren.org, WebMD.com, ParentMap.com.