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Communicating With Your Teen: 4 Ways to Break the Silence

By Mormon.org

Break the Silence

Parents and teens can run into communication barriers. With changing bodies, voices, interests, and attitudes, figuring out how to communicate is sometimes difficult terrain to navigate. When meeting in the middle and getting reacquainted seems impossible, don’t give up. You’re still the same species, and you both have the same basic need for love, validation, and acceptance—which gives you more in common that you might currently believe. The following are four suggestions for breaking unwelcome silence.

Serve

Service is one of the best ways to break down barriers. Finding simple ways to serve one another requires observation followed by action. In order to know how to best serve someone, you must be acquainted with their life. Once you’ve identified their needs, take action. Find ways to serve them. You’ll be encouraged by how good you feel and how much easier communication comes. 

If at first you’re not sure how to serve one another, find an ongoing service project you can work on together that will benefit someone else. Immediately you’ll have something in common and something to talk about. You’ll also be creating good memories.

Love

Often silence between parents and teens occurs when both parties feel they’ve reached an impasse. Maybe there’s been conflict and neither side knows how to reach out. As you go about getting reacquainted, remember to put love first. In order to do this, you’ve got to put yourself in the other’s shoes. Remind yourself how much you care about the other person. As communication begins, it may feel guarded at first. Don’t give up. Both parties will be able to relax and express themselves more freely when they’re confident they’ve got unconditional love and acceptance from the other person.

Listen

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” —Stephven Covey 

If you want the communication situation to change, you must listen to understand. Healthy communication doesn’t occur from a place of selfishness. It’s when we’re selfless and open to what the other person is feeling that we learn what listening is all about. Remember that listening is half of the communication process (if not more).

Act

Pay attention to one another’s interests and get involved. You don’t have to go skydiving, but you can be clapping from the ground. You may not be interested in experimenting in the kitchen, but you can be an enthusiastic sampler of new recipes. You may hate to run, but you can cheer at the finish line. Celebrate the interests of one another and talk about them. With a little effort, you can bridge gaps in personality, temperament, and interests. Before you know it, you may be checking in with each other just to talk.

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