Thanksgiving is a time for gathering, laughter, and warm belly-filling food. As with any relationship, the key to building a positive relationship is to keep the line of communication open.

Communicating with teens can sometimes be difficult, in busy households, it’s easy to overlook making time and space in your day to have a really good talk with your child and find out what’s going on in their life.

And if we do make time, sometimes we can get locked into unhelpful ways of communicating – bickering, nagging, criticizing, lecturing – that once we’re in are hard to avoid.

Your relationship is changing, and you have to be flexible and able to change with your child. But don’t ever think that they need you any less as a good sounding board. During adolescence, they need you just as much as they ever did. The best way to support them is by making sure they’ll come to you with any problems they’re having, and that’s why effective communication is so important.

Keys to effective communication

Barriers to effective communication

Try these following to encourage effective communication at the dinner table and beyond.

  • Open ended questions — “how did that make you feel?”
  • Actively listen — let them know you are listening by summarizing the situation as you heard it. “So let me see if I’ve got this right. You……. Is that how it happened?” Avoid adding your own judgment!!!
  • Validate their feelings — “It sounds as if you were [insert emotions here], were you?”
  • Move forward — “What do you think is the best thing to do now?”
  •  Talk about positive things happening in their life, and acknowledge the struggles

Try to minimize the following, which act as barriers to effective communication.

  • Interruptions and distractions — this may display disinterest in what your child is saying
  • Unsolicited advice — no one likes unsolicited advice; rather, try listening fully then ask to offer advice
  • Judgement — who likes to judge off the bat? Not me, and hopefully not you! Instead of judging what your child has to say, validate their point of view
  • Interrogation — O.K. so Thanksgiving is the time to find out what’s going on in your child’s life…

LEAVE THEM ROOM TO TALK, FREELY & OPENLY. They didn’t commit a crime. Don’t keep firing questions at them

There is always more than one way to work through things. Having these sorts of conversations helps your child explore how they manage their relationships and gives them clues about how to communicate well with others.

Author: Elizabeth Nguyen

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