How to have Effective Communication with Teens

It’s often said that communication is the key to a healthy relationship. While it might sound like tired advice, it’s a skill worth learning that will help us do better in all our relationships. As your teen grows up, the way you communicate with them will need to change to reflect the new boundaries in your relationship created by their increasing independence. Discovering these new and different approaches to communicating effectively with one another will be a learning experience for you both. Effective communication can help you both feel happier and more connected in your relationship, and more confident about having difficult conversations and resolving conflicts.

Effective communication can help if:

  • you feel disconnected from your teen
  • you and your teen don’t speak
  • you want to encourage your teen to talk about what’s going on for them
  • you want to improve your relationship with your teen.

What is effective communication?

You and your teen are communicating effectively when:

  • you both feel able to talk freely about your feelings, and you feel heard and understood.
  • you talk about all the little stuff, and you feel comfortable talking about the tough stuff when you need to
  • you have a close and easy way of sharing things, and you both know you won’t be judged because you love and care about each other.

Sometimes, in busy households, it’s easy to overlook making time and space in your day to have a really good talk with your teen and find out what’s going on in their life.

When your teen no longer depends on you as much as they once did, it’s harder to know everything that’s going on in their lives. They are more independent, and so you have to make time to check in with them to find out how they’re going.

Why is effective communication important?

Your relationship is changing, and you have to be flexible and able to change with your teen. But don’t ever think that they need you any less as a good sounding board. During adolescence, they need you just as much as they ever did. The best way to support them is by making sure they’ll come to you with any problems they’re having, and that’s why effective communication is so important.

What can help in communicating effectively with your teen?

Here are some tips that can help you have positive and constructive conversations with your teen. 

  • Being genuinely interested and curious about what your teen is telling you.
  • Giving them your undivided attention.
  • Show empathy – put yourself in your teen’s shoes.
  • Avoid just giving them instructions or unsolicited advice.
  • Choose a quiet space without distractions for important conversations.

Barriers to effective communication

Try to minimize the following, which act as barriers to effective communication.

  • Interruptions and distractions, which can make it seem like you’re not interested in what your child is saying.
  • Jumping in with advice, rather than listening to what your child has to say.
  • Judging what your teen has to say and not validating their point of view.
  • Interrogating your teen by firing questions at them

Here are some things to try that might help you to communicate more effectively with your child.

Excerpted from