4 secrets of communicating well with your teenager

Puberty does strange things to teenagers — not that any of us want to remember those awkward times. Major bodily changes aside, hormones rage like tides during puberty, altering our moods from one minute to the next. In fact, hormones were likely responsible for the majority of mood swings you experienced in your teenage years.

Hormones are also the reasons why parents are having trouble communicating with their very-own fidgety, slouchy and disinterested teenager back home. No matter how hard you try, he can never quite sit still and listen to whatever you have to say. It's like speaking to a blank wall — if a blank wall could roll its eyes every three seconds.

How then, do you even start a conversation?

1. Keep It Short and Sweet

In many ways, having a conversation with teenagers is similar to speaking with corporate types in a boardroom. You want to keep your points short and succinct. Anything longer and you risk losing their attention. The most important part, however, is to allow time for them to respond — kind of like the Q&A session at the end of a sales pitch. This allows the chat to come across as less of a lecture and more of a conversation.

2. Check Your Emotions

“Don't go to bed angry” is a popular marriage advice that applies to teenagers also. Yes, communicating with your teenage child can be infuriating. It may make you want to tear your hair out sometimes. However, yelling, screaming or nagging are only going to add oil to the fire. Once the defence mechanism kicks in for the volatile teenager, the conversation ends.

3. Feed the Teenager

Ever heard of the term “hangry”? It is an amalgamation of the words “hungry” and “angry”, and refers to high irritability due to hunger — and yes, science has an explanation. Your brain requires glucose to work. No food means no glucose, and no glucose means lower brain function. As such, an unorthodox though effective way to get your teenager to listen is to, simply, feed him! If you want to have a conversation with him, have it after meals.

4. Check In From Time to Time

A hormone-charged teenager is not going to be rational — or, at least, not in the heat of the moment. Instead of asking if he has understood everything that has been discussed, check in after a day or two to see if it — whatever 'it' may be — has sunk in.

Learn more about how you can plan for your teenager’s future.

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