Just like any other skill, successful communication will only come naturally after a lot of practice. Take every opportunity to talk with and listen to your teen.
Share personal stories and reflections. Focus on encouragement and avoid lecturing. No one likes a lecture, unless they pay for it at a seminar, etc. Learn to recognize the feelings behind your teen’s statements and really attempt to understand what they are saying. Remember that in communication there is a “coder” (sender of message) and a “decoder” (the one who hopefully picks up the message the coder sends). Use “I” statements to share your feelings and to express how your teen’s behavior affects you. Wait to give advice or make judgments until asked. A counselor or parenting class can help you learn and practice these skills.
Behavior that is rewarded is likely to be repeated: How often do you compliment your teen? If you catch them doing something good, make sure you let them know you appreciate it. Think about when someone compliments you. It feels pretty good. Sometimes we minimize or discount the compliments that others give us. Remember when this happens, we are not allowing someone to love us in their own way. Say thanks, even if you are having trouble excepting their compliment. You may be thinking, “Why, this is an old dress,” or “He is just saying that to make me feel good.” However, a compliment, when taken in, will not go unnoticed. In fact, you will remember them on a not-so-pleasant-day. A remembered compliment may just brighten your outlook.
Work on your relationship: Just like all relationships, this takes effort. Spend some time together doing something they like. Make their favorite meal. Leave them a note saying that you love them and are glad to be their parent.
What did you need that you did not get — and I don’t mean a new car or outfit! Sometimes it really helps to think back in time about how it was for us during our own adolescence. Do we want to really repeat the same thing, or can we make a commitment to change for the benefit of our family life today?