Building Better Communication with Adolescents
The famous psychologist Erik Erikson said, “In the social jungle of human existence, there is no feeling of being alive without a sense of identity.” And during their adolescence, children are confused about the same. This is the most important and also the most difficult period for both parents and children going through it. Ask any parent who has adolescents in the family what the biggest challenge for them is in raising adolescents, and their response would typically be, how to communicate with their adolescent child! The key to having effective communication with adolescents is knowing how to handle and motivate the child in the right direction. Building better communication with adolescents is important but tricky since adolescence is a transitioning phase of life where individuals undergo dramatic emotional and physical changes. They feel that nobody be parents, teachers or peers, understands them. They usually communicate this by frequently uttering the phrase ‘You don’t understand!’. Parents and teachers always complain that adolescents don’t listen to them. Frequent arguments between adolescents and parents is often a common occurrence. If the frequency of these arguments increase, it may lead to a breakdown of communication that can further damage the adolescent – parent relationship due to feelings of disconnect with each other which may lead to no or very little communication between them.
What Is considered ‘good communication’ with an adolescent?
Good communication occurs when the parent and child feel free to talk about their feelings, and feel mutually heard and understood. Here, parents and children talk about everything and feel comfortable doing so, without being judged by the other party. Often, it is important to treat an adolescent as a young adult who can make wise choices for him/herself, rather than a child who needs constant guidance and supervision. This in turn, facilitates the growth of the budding adult in the adolescent.
Why is it important to communicating with an adolescent?
Your child is growing and changing which mean you have to change with them. Sometimes we as parents or teachers may think adolescent children or students may not need us as they have friends to fall back on for support. But that is not true as they need us now more than ever. In order to create an open environment in which children feel free to approach us with any problem, we need to listen more and judge less.
How it is possible?
We all have hectic lifestyles, due to which we may forget to listen to our children. Showing genuine interest in their problems and habituating a discussion with them daily may help create an open environment. Choose a place where there won’t be any distraction so that you may give your children the undivided attention they need to make them feel comfortable. Refraining from judgement and being more empathetic is key here If a child is hesitant to talk about a topic or issue, it may be due to their insecurities. Interrogating them should be avoided here. Allowing children to lead the discussion is important, we may be tempted to give advice on each and everything they say which is where we need to restrain ourselves.
Adolescents are like a buddying flower; all they need is just the right environment
About the author:
Mr. Atul Verma is the Director of Unique Psychological Services, Delhi. Mr. Verma is a M.Phil in clinical psychology from Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences (IHBAS) Dilshad Garden, Delhi. He is involved in conducting talks and workshops on various psychological concerns for psychology students. He has also been featured on television and radio channels such as Pragya TV and AIR FM etc. He has written various books in psychology for psychology students and his articles are quite a regular feature in various newspapers and magazines. He strongly believes that educating and empowering professionals and creating awareness in the public will lead to mentally and physically healthy society, which is a pressing need in the present scenario.