Communicating with teens: an oxymoron?

The teen years are a time of transition from childhood to adulthood when teens undergo rapid physical, cognitive, emotional, social and spiritual growth. As a child and adolescent psychologist, I see many families struggle with communication during this time, when family relationships change dramatically as teens complete their journey to becoming independent adults. Communication between parents and teens is so important during this time, and does not have to be an oxymoron.

Time well spent
I believe the most important step parents can take in establishing open lines of communication with their teen is to spend quality one-on-one time together – regularly. This will help teens feel more at ease and encourage them to talk more openly with their parents and to establish a strong parent-child connection. This also is an opportunity to talk casually about things that are going on in your teen’s life and to address more difficult topics. Quality time can be as simple as playing a game, going for a walk, sharing a meal or going somewhere together. But it doesn’t include playing video games, watching TV or seeing a movie because people usually don’t talk to each other much during these activities.

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