Talking to your Teen

By: Davine Holness

talking to teens

How should communication change as your child ages?

Many of the problems that arise for parents during their child’s teen years may be traced to reluctance to adapt.  Many changes separate adolescents from younger children, and if the parenting style doesn’t change as well, conflicts are sure to arise.  Carl E. Pickhardt, PdD., a psychologist who specializes in parenting, suggests that parents adapt the way they speak with their children when the children hit adolescence.  Specifically, he says parents should communicate with more respect in order to help the child grow in skills and independence.

One tip Pickhardt provides is to respect the independence-creating properties of arguments.  Parents who are used to passive compliance during childhood may be daunted by the disputes that arise during adolescence.  Yet, by standing up for oneself against the authorities in their lives, teens express a more adult standing and move toward maturity.  Another suggestion for respecting independence is utilizing language of requests rather than commands.  This does not mean the parent should lose all of his or her power in the relationship, but phrasing needs as requests shows respect for the volition of the adolescent.  Another very helpful method is giving a full hearing.  Taking the time to give full attention to what the teen has to say allows for full communication, and may even make the teen more willing to comply with the desires of the adult.  Finally, being accessible and flexible about when to talk makes a difference.  When a teen says they don’t feel like discussing something at a certain time, parents often interpret it as an attempt to avoid the conversation.  However, it can simply be because the teen needs to become more emotionally prepared before they face a difficult or important discussion.  These ways of showing respect can lead to more harmonious communication.

If you are experiencing conflict with your son or daughter, you may find therapy to be of assistance.  Feel free to contact the Manhattan or Bergen Country, New Jersey offices of Arista Counseling and Psychotherapy at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920.  Visit for more detailed information.


Pickhardt, C. (2013, May 14). Respectful Communication with Your More Independent Teenager. Psychology Today


3 thoughts on “Talking to your Teen

  1. Thank you for stopping by my blog. I’m right there with you on the parenting thing. I have one Autistic 8yr old son and one super advanced 14 yr old daughter. Life is more complicated than you can imagine. But we persevere Thanks again!


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