Improving your relationship with your teen

In order to improve your relationship with your teen, the first thing you need to do is to be able to speak to them in a non-threatening or confronting manner.

If you want your teen to listen, you need to assure them that you really will listen as well, without judgment or criticism. You need to understand what their needs are, how they are feeling, and why they are so unhappy or angry. Why are they acting out? Once you understand what is going on, then you can start working on changing the behavior.

It starts with communicating to your teen that you are concerned about why they are acting they way there are. You need to be calm and to let them that you are concerned and care. Don't assume they know this, because if you are in a power struggle, the first things teens think is that all you care abut is about winning, not understanding. You need to get into their headspace in order to reconnect with them and have them believe that you are really on their side. You need to be able to really listen to what they are saying, without become defensive or trying to justify your position. You need to validate their feelings and let them know you really hear them. You want them to see this as a team effort, not you against them. Once you validate their feelings, they are more likely to be willing to listen to you and your concerns.

You should not start out with blaming, accusing, or nagging, because they will tune you out as soon as they hear that tone. If they feel you are really trying to explain, rather than blame, then they will listen. At that time, you can explain why you are feeling frustrated and how their behavior is affecting you and your ability to support them. If you are able to offer them some incentive, or encouragement; that is the most effective way to get them to be willing to change their behavior. Make it a win/win situation not a power struggle and you will see a big change in your teen and in the family harmony.

Psychologist Rhonda Rabow has helped many families deal with communication issues centered around parents and teenagers. In the over twenty years that Rhonda has been in practice, she has helped hundreds of families with issues related to teen behavior resolve their differences. Her non threatening approach and practical advice can help your family develop better relationships with each other.

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