As a parent, one of the most frustrating things you experience with your teenagers is when you feel like you simply can’t get through to them or they just ignore you.
This may be true, but it’s much more likely that they simply haven’t registered what it is that you’re asking them to do.
Your Teens aren’t Ignoring You – You’re just not Communicating on the Same Wavelength
We all know the key to any good relationship is good effective communication.
And in order for effective communication to happen, both parties need to have the same set of information.
But because teenagers and their adolescent brains are much more sensitive emotionally, and much less capable in terms of reasoning, this isn’t often the case.
You may think that you’re giving information very clearly, but your teenagers are not perceiving it in the way that you intend.
Teens are Emotionally Hyper-Sensitive
In conversation, there are 3 things that we process:
- One of the first things in any conversation that we actually hear whether you’re an adult or a teenager, especially as a teenager, is the tone of voice.
- The second thing is body language.
- And finally, you hear the words.
But because teenagers as I said, are highly emotionally sensitive to your tone of voice, your message often doesn’t get processed to final stage – the words.
This is why sometimes teenagers go off the deep end or start shouting or banging doors, and you’re like “I just asked you a question.”
You don’t know what the hell’s going on.
4 Tips to Communicate with you Teen Better
There are 4 tips in this type of situation:
1. Use a Neutral Tone
Firstly, when you give information, try if you can to give it in as neutral a tone as possible.
Just give them the information that you want them to have.
Sometimes I know that’s frustrating because you’ve told them a few times, but by the time you get to the third or fourth time, it does sound naggy.
Don’t worry, I get it, but try to be aware of that.
2. If they go off the Deep End – Give them Space to Calm Down and Process their Emotions
If your teen does go off the deep end, the best tip I can give you is just to give them space.
Don’t shout back, because if you shout back, it just exacerbates the situation even more. And in that situation, it just escalates.
Often the teenager themselves doesn’t even understand why they’ve gone off the deep end.
Like I said, their emotional centre is highly sensitive, but the reasoning capacity isn’t. Which means the two aren’t particularly linked.
So there isn’t always a logical reason for them going off the deep end and they can often be just as confused as you are.
So just give them space and let them calm down is my advice.
3. If they seemingly Ignore You – Make sure they have your full attention
If they don’t go off the deep end but it feels like they’re ignoring you, then this isn’t the case either.
Quite often they just haven’t registered or gotten the information that you’ve given them.
Johnny is sitting watching television and you’re going out. So you come into the room, you shout out to Johnny “Johnny can you please empty the dishwasher and put out the bin?”
Johnny goes “yeahhh” and you’re off.
As soon as the door closes, Johnny’s going “What did mum say about the bin?” and you’re lucky if you even got that bit, but I’ll tell you now, he definitely didn’t get the bit about the dishwasher.
Then you come home, and the dishwasher’s still full and you’re really frustrated and sometimes as parents we take it a bit personally, and we think “arrghh couldn’t he even just do THAT for me? I don’t ask him to do very much.”
He’s not being deliberately oppositional. He just simply hasn’t registered what it is that you’ve asked him to do.
So again, another tip in this situation – make sure that you have their full attention when you give them the information.
If he’s watching TV, he only has the processing capacity to focus on that one thing.
He’s not really hearing what you’re saying. So try to get full eye contact and get his full attention.
4. Break Down their Tasks
Another tip is if there’s more than one task, you need to break it down.
And you need to check with your teen that they understand exactly what it is you want them to do.
I know this is frustrating, but if you explain to them once or twice and practice a few times and he gets it, then you don’t have to explain it every single time after that.
So it’s a lot less frustrating than feeling like he’s ignoring you.
Aways keep in mind – Teens’ Emotional Centres are Highly Developed, but their Reasoning Capacity is Not
So to summarize, if you want to connect better and communicate better with your teenager, just keep in mind that their emotional centres are highly developed, their reasoning capacity is NOT well developed, so simple things like using a neutral tone, chunking the information you give, can really help to help you to connect better and improve your relationship with your teenager.
In the next video, I want to talk to the teenager. So if you’ve got teenagers, get them to check in on the video, because what I want to do is tell THEM what THEY need to know when they’re talking with you as parents.
So that way, both of you will have the same set of information.
In the meantime, please continue to connect, relate and communicate. And I’ll see you next time.