How to talk to your teenager: 7 tips for parents

Are you wondering what happened to the easygoing chats you anticipated having with your teenage child? Are your attempts to ask about their day met with a grunt or, even worse, an eye roll? Does this leave you feeling insecure and wondering how you can improve things between you?


Communicating with teenagers can be challenging. They're going through a lot of changes, and they're often feeling insecure and unsure of themselves. But it's important to stay connected with them, even when it's tough. They are watching and learning from you. Show them how positive respectful communication looks, sounds and feels.

7 tips for better communication with your teenager

Here are some tips to help you build strong connections and good communication with your teenager:

1. More listening, less talking

This is number one on this list for a reason! It’s vital that your child feels heard and understood. Make sure to give them your full attention when they do choose to talk to you. It can be tempting to jump in with a 'fix' for any issues they might be facing but what they need most is to feel heard.

2. Actively listen 

This means paying attention to what they are saying. Ask questions to clarify and summarise the points they’ve made back to them. This makes sure that you have understood what they are saying. Watch your body language and tone of voice – teens are very aware of this! Let them see that you are listening and are interested.

3. No judging

Even if you don’t agree with what they’re saying, be respectful of their feelings and opinions. Teens are going through a lot of changes and so are often feeling insecure and unsure of themselves. Give them some slack. A study by the NSPCC has found that 80% of teenagers said that they would feel more comfortable talking to their parents about important issues if they felt that their parents would listen to them without judging them.

4. Watch your language

Sarcasm and shouting don't help. Focus on using calm and assertive communication. 

5. Honesty for the win

If you can share your thoughts and feelings with them, it will be easier for them to be open and honest with you. Show them you are willing to listen. This also means being nice and clear about your expectations and rules.

6. Find common ground

This could be sharing a hobby, watching a TV show together (even better if it’s one they’ve chosen) or just talking about your day. Ask them what they’re interested in and be respectful of their interests (even if you don’t understand them). Share your interests with them, something you’ve liked since you were their age or something you’ve gotten into more recently.

7. Make one-to-one time

This is especially important as your teen gets older and starts to spend more time with their friends. Aim for quality over quantity; even a few minutes a day of focused time connecting makes a world of difference to them. Go for a walk together, or discuss current events with them.

Some additional tips for you:

  • Be patient. It takes time to build trust and communication with teens. You won’t see results overnight but these will make a difference that will grow over time. And they will notice.
  • Be yourself. Teens can spot a fake a mile off! And they will let you know 
  • Have fun! Connecting with your teen should be enjoyable for both of you. If you aren’t enjoying the conversation, chances are your teen won’t be either. 

Communicating with teenagers can be challenging, but it's important to remember that they are still growing and learning. By following these tips, you can create a more open and supportive environment for positive communication with your teenager. And positive communication is vital; it helps with their self-esteem, it sets them up for healthy relationships outside of the family, with their peers and romantic partners. 

If you are struggling to cope with how your child is behaving and how that is making you feel, check out my profile to learn more about how we can work together and get in touch with me by clicking the 'email me' button below.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Seaford, East Sussex, BN25
Written by Jennifer Warwick, MSc Psych, BACP Registered | Counsellor and Parenting Expert
Seaford, East Sussex, BN25

I am a BACP registered counsellor working online. I work with people who struggle to balance work, home and family life. People constantly rush, looking after others over themselves and are exhausted. I specialise in supporting parents and carers as they navigate their child's tween and teenage years. Contact me for an introductory chat by phone.

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