10 Proven ways to get teenager to listen to you

By applying these 10 tips, you’ll build a stronger relationship with your teenager. Over time, your teenager will go from not listening to you, to listening to you willingly!
  1. USE ACTIVE LISTENING TECHNIQUES
  2. FOCUS ON YOUR TEENAGER’S SPECIFIC BEHAVIOUR
  3. USE “I” MESSAGES INSTEAD OF “YOU” MESSAGES
  4. ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR TEENAGER’S FEELINGS
  5. AVOID THESE BARRIERS TO COMMUNICATION…
  6. DO YOUR BEST TO UNDERSTAND THINGS FROM YOUR TEENAGER’S PERSPECTIVE
  7. SHOW EMPATHY TOWARD YOUR TEENAGER
  8. AVOID USING THE PHRASES “YOU ALWAYS…” AND “YOU NEVER…”
  9. AS FAR AS POSSIBLE, GIVE YOUR TEENAGER CHOICES
  10. DON’T THREATEN YOUR TEENAGER

1. USE ACTIVE LISTENING TECHNIQUES

Use the following techniques:

Encourage him to continue speaking by saying things like “Tell me more…” or “Go on…”

Pay full attention to what your teenager is saying

Occasionally paraphrase what he has been saying, e.g. “It sounds like you feel left out because you can’t play this game with your friends. It sounds like you think our house rules are too strict.”

Maintain eye contact

Don’t interrupt him when he’s talking

Ask clarifying questions when necessary, e.g. “Can you explain why you feel that way?”

2. FOCUS ON YOUR TEENAGER'S SPECIFIC BEHAVIOUR

Don’t make general statements such as:

“You never submit your homework on time.”

“You don’t manage your time well.”

“You’re so rude to your grandmother.”

“Why do you always bully your brother?”

Focus on the facts instead, for example:

“This month, I’ve received three separate emails from your teachers telling me that you haven’t submitted the assigned homework.”

“I noticed that you were using your phone for four hours straight this afternoon.”

“Yesterday, I heard you raise your voice at your grandmother when she asked you if you had showered.”

“Last night, I saw you slap your brother.”

3. USE "I" MESSAGES INSTEAD OF "YOU" MESSAGES

“You” messages focus on what the other person has done or should do.

“I” messages focus on how the person who is speaking feels.

Here are a couple of examples:

“You” message: You’re so rude.

“I” message: I feel disrespected when you speak to me that way.

“You” message: You should stop using your phone so much.

“I” message: I feel concerned when I see you using your phone when you still have several homework assignments to complete.

4. ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR TEENAGER'S FEELINGS

As such, these teenagers feel as if their parents treat them as kids, when they’re actually on the cusp of adulthood. Show respect toward your teenager and acknowledge her thoughts and feelings.

Their parents tell them why they shouldn’t have certain beliefs or feelings.

The teenagers I work with often tell me that their parents are dismissive of them.

5. AVOID THESE BARRIERS TO COMMUNICATION...

Giving solutions, e.g. “If you do more practice questions, you’ll get better grades for math.”

Lecturing, e.g. “You should learn to manage your emotions better.”

Which friends are you with?”

Interrogating, e.g. “Where are you now? Why didn’t you tell me you were going to be late?

Commanding, e.g. “Clear your room right now.”

Criticising, e.g. “You’re so lazy.”

Ridiculing, e.g. “There’s no way you could accomplish that given your current work ethic.”

Blaming, e.g. “If you could just wake up on time, you wouldn’t cause so much stress for everyone else.”

6. DO YOUR BEST TO UNDERSTAND THINGS FROM YOUR TEENAGER’S PERSPECTIVE

Think back to when you were a teenager. Did you like it when your parents cut you off while you were speaking? Or when you were playing with your friends, did you like it when your parents interrupted you?

Take some time to analyse the situation from your teenager’s point of view.

7. SHOW EMPATHY TOWARD YOUR TEENAGER

Teenagers love using the word “but”:

“But my friends don’t have to do this…”

 “But I’m busy now…”

“But I can do the homework later…”

 “But that’s so unfair…”

Show empathy by first acknowledging what your teenager has said:

“I understand that your friends don’t have to do this…”

“I know it seems like your homework isn’t urgent…”

 “I can see that you’re in the middle of your game…”

“I know this seems unfair to you…”

8. AVOID USING THE PHRASES "YOU ALWAYS..." AND "YOU NEVER..."

This is a follow-up to the previous point.

It’s rarely 100% true that your teenager “always” or “never” does something, so using these phrases will cause him to become defensive.

9. AS FAR AS POSSIBLE, GIVE YOUR TEENAGER CHOICES

By doing so, you’ll give your teenager a sense of control and autonomy.

Here are some types of choices you could give your teenager:

Do the task using Method A, B, or C

Do the task today or tomorrow

Do Task A this week or Task B next week

Do the task every day for 10 minutes, or once a week for an hour

Teenagers love using the word “but”:

“But my friends don’t have to do this…”

“But I’m busy now…”

“But I can do the homework later…”

“But that’s so unfair…”

 Show empathy by first acknowledging what your teenager has said:

“I understand that your friends don’t have to do this…”

 “I can see that you’re in the middle of your game…”

“I know it seems like your homework isn’t urgent…”

 “I know this seems unfair to you…”

10. DON'T THREATEN YOUR TEENAGER

It’s tempting to threaten your teenager, especially when you’re at your wits’ end.

Resist this urge, because making threats will damage your parent-child relationship in the long run. The threats will eventually lose their effectiveness too.

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