Effective Communication Advice from Ozarks Teen Challenge
At Ozarks Teen Challenge, we understand that sometimes the hardest thing to do is to effectively communicate with your teen. Below are some tips from the Ozarks Teen Challenge staff on how to create better methods of communication between you and your son, which in turn builds better trust and a stronger relationship.
Don’t Lecture, Listen
If there’s one thing teens hate, it’s being lectured, which is frustrating for parents who want to teach their kids about right and wrong and express dissatisfaction with bad behaviors. Rather than giving a monologue lecture on what your son has done wrong, try condensing your subject into bullet points. Speak on each point, and then give your son a chance to speak. He may have an explanation for his actions, he may not, but the important thing is that you’re giving him a voice, and an opportunity to use it. This shows him that you find his input valuable and that you want to hear from him.
Keep Your Emotions Calm
If there’s something we’ve learned from our years of experience with teen boys at Ozarks Teen Challenge, it’s that hormones run high, causing emotions to run even higher. This means that any conversation could turn into a full out argument if a nerve is hit. As a parent, it’s important that you remain calm, even in the face of an argument. Use a normal speaking voice, keep our tone neutral, and choose words that get your message across without sounding hurtful.
When your emotions and voice level rise, there’s more of a chance that your son will have an emotional response as well. Even if the conversation is a tough one, such as a poor report card, or a discussion about breaking the rules, stay calm as you speak, and give examples of ways that these behaviors can improve, rather than simply expressing frustration or disappointment.
Teenage boys sometimes have trouble dealing with emotions, speaking their feelings, or letting others in. One way to break the ice is to do something active together. Shooting hoops, going for a jog, or playing a game of street hockey opens the doors for natural communication and helps him burn off steam as he goes. If your son isn’t much for sports, even something as simple as walking the dog together can open the door to conversation.
You can take an interest in other hobbies that might get him talking as well, such as non-violent video games, cooking, or putting together model planes/trains/cars, etc.
Use Ozarks Teen Challenge Family Support Opportunities
If your son is enrolled in the Ozarks Teen Challenge program, you can learn to communicate better by taking advantage of the family support opportunities available at our Christian boarding school. Speak with one of your son’s mentors, take the time to chat on the phone with him each night, and visit for a family session when possible. Once your son has developed a sense of trust and is at home in the school, he may be more open to talking about past problems and future solutions on-site. Remember to use the above-mentioned strategies, and always be respectful.