5 Tips for Better Understanding Your Teenager

Do you ever feel like your connection with your teen is slipping? Here are five tactics for stopping the slip…steps you can take to get closer to them and to better understand them.

#1 Ask Questions and Listen

The first step to understanding your teen is to ask questions. Now there’s a strategy here. Many teens give yes/no answers when you ask them a question. The trick is to do it when they’re more likely to open up. Driving in the car seems to be a good time.

When you ask questions, make sure to listen to the answers – even if you don’t understand half of the words they’re using. It’s okay to ask for clarification. As you’re listening, take mental notes. They’ll come in handy in the next step.

#2 Google It!

If you have no idea what your child is talking about, Google it. Google the things they express interest in, the people, and even the language they use. The Urban Dictionary can be incredibly useful. For example, “Feels” – A wave of emotions that sometimes cannot be adequately explained. “Watching Back to the Future gives me all sorts of nostalgic feels.”

#3 Listen

One of the best ways to better understand your teen is to listen in to see what they’re talking about with their friends, and what kinds of things their friends are involved in. Try to be around them when they’re with their friends. Attend events with them. Volunteer to drive them and their friends to events. And encourage them to invite their friends over.

#4 Get Involved

Start taking an active interest in your teen’s interests. For example, if they’re involved in the local drama club then volunteer to help out with the club. If they are active online and have their own YouTube channel, then by all means watch that channel but also watch the other YouTubers that your child follows.

#5 Relax

Each generation has their own trends, language, and interests. Guaranteed, when you were a teenager your parents thought you were from another planet as well. It’s the way of the world. It’s okay to not be able to completely relate with your teenager. In fact, it’s normal.

Do what you can to connect with them. Let them know that you’re interested in their lives and then relax. You don’t need to be a friend with your teenager, nor do you need to share the same interests. It’s enough to let them know that you care.

For further reading:

10 Best Gifts for Your Teen: Raising Teens with Love and Understanding
10 Best Gifts for Your Teen: Raising Teens with Love and Understanding
Price: $11.11
Patt and Steve Saso navigated all the parenting perils from infancy to preteen insecurity, but nothing could prepare them for the unpredictability of adolescence. One day their teenager might say, “I love you,” after the morning ride to school, and the next he might sit in the back seat, sulking in silence. In their new book, 10 Best Gifts For Your Teen, the Sasos offer valuable advice to help families maintain strong relationships through the often turbulent teenage years. Combining Patt’s expertise as a marriage and family therapist with Steve’s experience as a high school educator, the Sasos share personal and professional anecdotes in this dispatch from the parenting trenches, detailing what adolescents want and need from their parents for emotional support. Teenagers will test the limits. Parents will make mistakes. But no matter how distant and resentful they appear to be, or how disrespectful of parental authority, teenagers internalize their parents’ words and actions. 10 Best Gifts For Your Teen – which include respect, room, role-modeling, responsibility and reconciliation – teaches parents how to relate when needed, and to relent when necessary, offering support without infringing on their teenagers’ burgeoning sense of freedom. Patt and Steve Saso have shared their wisdom through their Saso Seminars, providing inspiration and information to help parents raise respectful and successful children. And now, with 10 Best Gifts For Your Teen, they have given a gift to parents across the country who want their teenager’s transition from childhood to adulthood to be a smooth and rewarding one.

Helping Your Troubled Teen: Learn to Recognize, Understand, and Address the Destructive Behavior of Today's Teens and Preteens
Helping Your Troubled Teen: Learn to Recognize, Understand, and Address the Destructive Behavior of Today’s Teens and Preteens
Price: $8.94
The first “adolescent primer” on the market Destructive trends among today’s youth are growing, making life very different from when their parents were growing up. The primary four self-destructive behaviors in adolescence today are excessive alcohol and substance abuse, promiscuity, self mutilation (ie: cutting and burning), and eating disorders. These will be covered in detail, along with other issues like Internet addiction and suicide. These problems are not only detrimental to teens’ mental and physical health, but the legal consequences for injurious behavior have also changed. Identification and prevention are the most important aspects in stopping teenage self-destructive behavior. This book offers a comprehensive look at teens self destructive behavior and gives parents solutions for dealing with it. Helping Your Troubled Teen instructs parents on how to identify an at-risk adolescent and discuss warning signs of injurious behavior, before the problem(s) become severe enough that a child is in crisis and/or legal actions are taken against them. Personal anecdotes and testimonials from both parents and their teenagers who have been confronted with and have engaged in self-destructive behavior are also included. McLean Hospital is the largest psychiatric teaching facility of Harvard Medical School. Founded in 1811 as the original psychiatric department of the MGH, it moved to Belmont in 1895. McLean Hospital operates the largest psychiatric neuroscience research program of any Harvard University-affiliated facility and of any private psychiatric hospital in the country. The Child and Adolescent Program at McLean Hospital is one of the foremost clinical programs for helping young people and their families cope with psychiatric illness and the challenges it often brings. There are extensive ties with community services, and each therapeutic program of children and adolescents in inpatient, residential and outpatient services is tailored to the specific needs of the child and family.