How to connect with your teenager? At Agora International School Barcelona we know the definitive keys.
During adolescence, many parents find that communication with their children becomes more difficult. Suddenly, their child has become more reluctant to share his or her feelings and to talk to parents who often feel rejected and ask themselves over and over again: What can I do to connect with my adolescent child?
Dad, mum, the answer is at your fingertips. It’s right in front of you and you haven’t even realised it. Luckily, at Agora International School Barcelona we are going to help you resolve the question and show you all the tools you can use so that you don’t feel like a stranger when you try to establish a relationship with your teenager.
Adolescents: neither children nor adults
Before getting into the subject, it is worth explaining what exactly happens when our children enter adolescence. According to the World Health Organisation, adolescence is “the period of human growth and development that occurs after childhood and before adulthood, between the ages of 10 and 19”. According to the organisation, it is “characterised by an accelerated rate of growth and change driven by a variety of biological processes”.
And what biological processes do they refer to? Well, among others, physical and sexual maturation (characterised by continuous hormonal changes), the development of identity or the capacity to assume adult functions, among others.
In conclusion, we ask the question to you, parents: as adults, would you be able to cope with this great shock in every sense of development without altering your personality and your way of communicating with the rest of the world one bit? Probably not. And neither are they: our help will always be good for them.
In fact, Manuel Hernández Pacheco, a graduate in Biology and Psychology, stated in the conference ‘The adolescent brain’ that “we must set many limits for adolescents and also give them a lot of affection because everything changes, their body, their mind, they will begin to have emotions that they will not know how to handle and, with this, insecurities”.
Connect with your teenager by trying to understand them
From the above information we can understand, as a main motto, that what is essential to connect with your teenager is that you understand all the changes that are taking place in their mind and body and, therefore, be assertive with their behaviour. “Parents have to put up with it, they have to understand that to a certain extent it is normal for an adolescent to challenge, for an adolescent who may have been a very good child to suddenly start to stop being so”, explained psychologist Ángel Peralbo in this interview with Gestionando Hijos.. “Parents have to remain at the same level, firm but making an effort to understand adolescents”, he concluded.
Guidelines for connecting with your teenager
So, what do I do if he/she behaves in a distant and domineering way towards me? I’m sure you are asking yourself this question at this point. Don’t panic. There are a lot of tools that, without knowing it, you can already start using. Here are some tips you can put into practice to connect with your teenager:
- Listen and ask questions without judging: “Knowing how to listen and ask questions will allow you to gain authority,” says Eva Bach, pedagogue and teacher. “When we listen to them and let them speak, without questioning, and if they object to something, we will use expressions like ‘so, what would you do’,” she adds.
- Give them the intimacy they need
- Don’t deny their emotions, or judge them: avoid ‘there’s no reason for them to feel that way’, because maybe that reason is important to them.
- Avoid power struggles, as this will only create distance between you and your teenager.
- Establish covenants, rather than boundaries. During adolescence it is vitally important that we establish dialogues to agree on ‘pacts’, which will now replace the healthy limits we set in childhood. At least, this is what Javier Urra, psychologist and expert in childhood and adolescence, believes. So, forget the famous phrases such as ‘because I said so’, ‘because you live in my house’ or ‘this is just the way it is’ because if we want to have a good relationship with our teenager, we will have to explain everything well and make them participate in the decisions we make that affect them.
- Lead by example: if you want your child to be responsible, you have to be responsible and lead by example. “You have to be consistent. You can’t tell them not to drink alcohol and drink. Although you have to explain to them that parents make mistakes, but that we know what we have to do”, says Javier Urra in an interview for La Voz de Galicia as a result of his book ‘Déjame en paz y dame la paga’ (Leave me alone and pay me). “You have to set an example: be noble, humble, pay your taxes, don’t run a stop sign…”.
Key to communicating with your teenager: don’t feel attacked
One of the most important pieces of advice: don’t feel attacked by your child because he or she has nothing against you. During adolescence your child will experience fears, insecurities and internal issues that he or she is not able to resolve. So, if in an argument he or she throws something in your face, don’t take advantage of the moment to add fuel to the fire.