It's Like Talking to a Wall
Remember the ‘focused fours’?
That period when your angel was four years old and developing a sense of independence, which really was a period of increased frustration for mum and dad? You could speak until you are blue in the face but they would still go about their merry way of doing what they wanted to do…and god forbid the tantrum if you tried to stop them? The fourteen-year-old has a great deal in common with their four-year-old self that's for sure! And, like talking to a ‘focused four-year-old’, talking to a fourteen-year-old can be like talking to a wall!
Do you speak-ey enlish?
For starters, there seems to be an entirely new language: slang, text shorthand, and grunts. There should be a language class for teen-speak but as soon as you graduate they would have moved on to the next wave of trendy buzz words and you will still be left wondering what ‘gath’ means. (Gath is short for gathering – which is a different form of catching up with friends…of course..?) It is also important to know that once you do decipher the code, under no circumstance should you attempt to use said word, as it instantly renders that word un-usable from that moment forward. Just keep it under your hat and don't let on that you know what they are on about.
If you are asking yourself the question ‘why won't my teen talk/listen to me?’ it could be the very question your teen is asking themselves about you!
On a more serious note, communication can be a very real challenge for many parents and teens. Most of what is going on for a teenager is going on in their head. Learning to become an adult is to learn to deal with ‘stuff’ yourself, or so they think. The notion that parents don't understand, or worse, will try and DO something to help often leaves them saying "Yep, I'm good" when you ask if all is OK. And rightly so in some cases. Many parents can go into panic mode - 'must fix this problem now' which is not what your teen actually wants. Parents can even shut down themselves when faced with having a conversation on topics such as sex, for example. If you are asking yourself the question ‘why won't my teen talk/listen to me?’ it could be the very question your teen is asking themselves about you! Listening is often harder than talking and yet we expect the teenager to do more listening than talking. It is, in fact, US parents who need to do less talking and more listening, body language interpretation, and mind reading. Easier said than done...
It is so important to have the skills and tools to ensure the best forms of open conversation: these things do not 'just happen'.
It is a time for a change of tactic and attitude towards communication if we want to be able to overcome the common barriers. Understanding the impact of active listening; understanding the right and wrong times to enter into discussions; coming to terms with knowing that they do not always want your advice or opinion, and recognising the subtle difference in asking for help and just venting, are all skills that can improve 'dialogue exchange' with your teen.
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'it's like talking to a wall!'